Kerala Muslim League leader arrested in the flyover bridge case, Opposition cries foul

South India
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The IUML leader was arrested months after eight others, includidng former PWD Secretary T O Sooraj, secured bail after spending several days in remand

Former Kerala PWD Minister and IUML leader Ibrahim Kunju was on Wednesday, November 18, arrested by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) in connection with corruption in the construction of a flyover bridge at Palarivattom n Kochi.

He was detained from a private hospital where he got admitted on Tuesday. A team of the VACB sleuths visited the hospital and arrested him after consulting the doctors treating him. The IUML leader is the fifth person to be arrested in the case. He was arrested after the first four accused were remanded and later release on bail.

Kunju is the ninth person to be arrested in connection with the case. The other eight arrested by the VACB include former PWD secretary T. O. Sooraj. Curiously, the IUML leader was arrested after the others secured bail after spending several days in remand. It had questioned Kunju several times in Thiruvananthapuram based on a statement given Sooraj that the plan for the bridge was modified to benefit the contractors and they were given Rs.8.25 crore as advance without interest at the behest of the former minister.

Serious flaws in the construction of the bridge, which was aimed at easing traffic congestion in the city,were noticed a couple of years after its inauguration and decommissioned after technical examination by a team of engineers led by former Delhi Metro chairman E M Sreedharan.

The Congress-led opposition United Democratic (UDF) has termed the arrest politically motivated. Opposition leaders said that the VACB was made to act after the local body polls were announced into the gold smuggling case revealed corruption in a number of flagship projects of the Left Democratic Front was found on the defensive over various scandals rocking it after the gold smuggling case involving top functionaries in the Chief Minister’s office came to light.

Ibrahim Kunju is the second opposition legislator to be arrested after the gold smuggling case started rattling the government and drug smuggling case the ruling party. Earlier, Kasargod IUML MLA C M Kamaruddin was arrested in connection with the Fashion gold cheating case. Another IUML MLA KM Shaji is also being probed in connection with a graft and money laundering case.

The state police are also currently investigating a sexual abuse case related to solar scam against a series of opposition leaders, including former chief minister Oommen Chandy, after keeping it in the cold storage for four and a half years.

Senior Congress leader P T Thomas accused the government of using VACB to target the political opponents in the run up to the local body elections, in which the LDF is on the defensive  on account of various scandals that have erupted recently.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala had said earlier that the government was desperate to divert public attention away from the multiple investigations by at least four Central agencies against the Chief Minister’s Office on suspicion of abetting gold smugglers and corruption.

VACB officials said they had told the court that Kunju's custodial investigation was necessary to prosecute the Palarivattom corruption case. Moreover, they feared that Kunju would attempt to sway witnesses if investigators allowed him to be at large.

Image Credit: The Hindu

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