A Kerala MLA has created a record of sorts, but for all the wrong reasons. A total of 84 FIRs have been registered against Indian Union Muslim League’s (IUML) M C Kamaruddin, who represents Mancheswaram constituency in Kasaragod district, for cheating, money laundering and financial fraud.
Of the 84 FIRs, 58 have been registered with Chandera police station in Kasaragod. So far, the number of people who have accused Kamaruddin of cheating stands at 84. “This is probably a world record, highest number of cases against an MLA in India for sure,” says Adv. C Shukkoor, the lawyer representing 79 complainants.
The cheating case dates back to 2006. A company named Fashion Gold International Private Ltd was registered in 2006 with M C Kamaruddin as one of the seven directors. In the following years, three more companies were formed namely Nujum Gold Pvt Ltd (2007), Khamar Fashion Gold Pvt Ltd (2008), and Fashion Ornament Private Ltd (2012). Kamaruddin was a director in each of the above companies.
Three jewellery stores were started under these companies, for which money was sought from willing depositors in the form of deposits and shares. “Money was collected (different amounts from different people) on agreements signed on stamp papers on the consideration that people would be provided either a certain amount of interest for their deposits or dividend. A total investment of ₹132 crore was done by 749 depositors,” said Adv C Shukkur.
Among the investors who were cheated are those who have deposited their life-time savings in the scheme. N P Naseema, a divorcee who has two minor daughters, invested ₹8 lakh in 2017. The money was the amount she received as maintenance from her husband after years of legal battle. “I was offered a return of ₹1,000 each month for every one lakh deposit. Thus I got ₹8,000 a month till 2019. After that it stopped. They told me that the company was running into losses. I demanded my principal amount back, but they refused. I waited for a few months and then filed a complaint,” says Naseema. She was not directly in touch with the accused MLA, but trusted one T K Pookkoya Thangal, who too is a director in one of the companies. Thangal was the person who used to bring investors on board, according to complainants.
Today, Naseema is jobless and lives in a rented house with her two daughters. A portion of the maintenance amount was deposited in the bank for the daughters, a part of which could be withdrawn only when the girls turn 18. “This was the only savings I had. I don’t know what to do if I don’t get my money back,” she said.
Muhammad Kunju Haji from Cheruvathur worked for 35 years in Saudi Arabia and had invested ₹25 lakh, his life time savings in one of the jewellery companies. He too was given the same offer. “They offered to give me ₹1,000 per one lakh, thus I used to get ₹25,000 a month,” said Haji, who is 68 years old and hardly remembers when he deposited the amount.
“I got returns for two years, then they told me that the company was in loss and cut the returns to half i.e. ₹500 per ₹1 lakh,” he said. When Haji realised that things are not in good shape, he went to meet one of the directors to demand his principal amount back. “The jewellery shop was shut down by then,” said Haji.
More disheartening is the case of Abdul Satar, who had undergone a kidney transplant five years ago. The local mosque authorities and natives had formed a committee to raise funds for the transplant and further treatment. “We formed a trust and deposited the balance amount of ₹13 lakh in one of the jewelleries run by the MLA. This amount was exclusively maintained for Satar’s further treatment,” says Noufel, a committee member. Satar used to get ₹10,000 in three months which was stopped a year ago. “I need to take medicines all my life. The medicines are expensive. I spend nearly ₹8,000 a month on medicines,” said Satar, who works as an auto rickshaw driver now. He also has to support his family and his brother, who is mentally challenged.
Despite such stories of hardships of common and needy people, the IUML leadership has gone soft on MLA M C Kamaruddin. “We have set up an internal inquiry. The guilty have been given six months’ time to compensate all the depositors. We will take a decision if he (Kamaruddin) fails to meet this target,” said KPA Majeed, the General Secretary of IUML. As a face-saving action, the party removed him from the position of UDF convenor in Kasaragod district.
The opposition parties have demanded the resignation of Minister K T Jaleel for the reason that he was summoned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as a witness in the gold smuggling case. On the contrary, no one is in a hurry to see MLA Kamaruddin’s resignation, not even the CPI(M). “We demand to expedite the investigation into the fraud complaints. We are waiting for it,” said P Rajeev, a state secretariat member of the CPI(M).