People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 45

November 07, 2004


Kerala Rocked By Hawala Charges


WHO are the king pins? With whom are they connected? How close are the links with select politicians? These are the questions that are being raised in Kerala. This time, it is a 700 crore 'hawala' racket in Kerala which could have its political ripples following allegations about involvement of certain politicians. Already, the leader of the opposition V S Achuthanandan told newspersons here today that the central and state governments should conduct a joint inquiry into all the aspects, including the alleged role of certain ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders. It was also suspected that the hawala money could have been utilised for extremists activities, he added. It may be recalled that the CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan also alleged that though there was a similar case two years ago, the government did not show the seriousness expected of it in probing it. All this happened in the midst of reports that the state government had entrusted the probe to a Joint Task Force of various state and Central Intelligence agencies.


Pressure had indeed been mounting on Chandy government to probe into hawala racket, for quite some time. While former chief minister A K Antony and former union minister of state O Rajagopal demanded a comprehensive inquiry by the CBI and other central agencies, leader of the opposition V S Achuthanandan wanted a joint inquiry by central and state agencies into all the aspects.


Chief minister Oommen Chandy, however, maintained that it was for the central agencies to look into the matter. "We don't have anything to hide. But our role is limited only to the extent of finding out the utilisation of the hawala money," he told newspersons at Palakkad, recently. Also there were reports that some politicians were among the beneficiaries of the hawala transactions. All the aspects, including the alleged role of certain ruling (UDF) leaders and the money's possible use for extremist activities, should be investigated, Achuthanandan said.


"That is not true. When the initial report of hawala transactions to the tune of Rs 336 crore came to my notice I ordered an inquiry into it when I was the chief minister," Antony said. There had been no lapse in the inquiries by the Vigilance and Crime Branch, after the probe was ordered, he added.


Antony, holding the press conference for the first time after relinquishing the office of the chief minister in August 2004, termed as baseless the allegations that his government had suppressed facts relating to the investigation.  "In my knowledge, the investigation is still going on," he added.


However, despite crores of rupees flowing into Kerala through illegal route, chief minister Oommen Chandy today admitted that his government was completely in dark over the utilisation of Rs 700 crore hawala money that reached the state during 2000-03 period "We don't have any information about the utilisation of the hawala money.  Till now, there is no evidence to prove the involvement of any politician in the case," the chief minister told newspersons here after a Cabinet meeting.


He said the State Vigilance and Crime Branch were probing into the utilisation of the hawala money, especially to find out whether it was routed for any extremist activities or drug trafficking.  Now, the investigation would be handed over to the newly-constituted inter-state intelligence cell which would be under the direct control of the Director General of Police.


Referring to the demand of former chief minister A K Antony to hand over the case to the CBI, Oommen Chandy said various central agencies were already investigating the case.  Of the 14 accused in the earlier Rs 336 crore hawala case, seven of them, including four Keralites, had already been arrested Of the remaining seven accused, two are from Kerala.


However, the chief minister refused to disclose the names of the two Keralites against whom the Central agencies issued arrest warrants. The state police has found that at present they are not in Kerala.


Earlier it may be recalled that the CPI(M) leader Vijay Raghavan had also shown a letter to the union home minister Shivraj Patel. The letter sought his active intervention.


The letter stated, As per the investigation carried out by the Directorate of Enforcement a Hawala Transaction involving an amount of Rs 700 crore has been revealed.  This hawala money has been handed over to various people in the state of Kerala through many Mumbai Banks having branches in the state. I would like to recall that this issue of Hawala transactions was raised in the parliament by me through a Question No 128 dated 17.7.2002.


There are apprehensions that this amount may be used for anti-national activities.  There were reports in the media that anti-National organisations were planning to gain foothold in the state exploiting the vulnerable geographical and demographical conditions of the state. I am constrained to note here that even a serious matter of this magnitude was not given utmost importance which is evident from the snail pace progress of the investigation and the delay in bringing the culprits to book.  It is also disturbing to note that the state government has taken a casual approach in dealing with a situation, which poses serious threat to the social harmony in the state. No arrest has so far been made even after the publication of the investigation report.


In view of the seriousness of the situation Vijay Raghavan requested the home minister to take urgent and appropriate measures for a thorough and detailed enquiry into the matter so that the culprits are brought to book and any kind of activities in the state by anti-national elements are nipped in the bud.


Records from the parliament indicate that the matter has been spot lighted in various ways from 2002. Infact five banks and at least 38 persons are allegedly involved. The controversy rages on as do moves to dismiss it lightly and cover up. (INN)