Kozhikode: In Kerala, the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) is at the receiving end of a campaign the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) unleashed against the ruling CPM.
After BJP leader K. Surendran had publicized the photos of CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan using a mini cooper owned by gold smuggling accused Abu Lais (Abdullais), the UDF had too joined the bandwagon which flayed the 'flamboyance' and 'capitalist leanings' of CPM leaders.
Now, photos depicting UDF leaders with the accused are doing the rounds. The photos show T. Siddique and P.K. Feroze posing with Abu Lais. Reports say these pictures were shot at a five-star hotel in Dubai.
Siddique said many people had posed with him for photos when he went to Dubai for election campaign. He said he did not know Abu Lais at a personal level, and added that he was open to any inquiry.
Photos that showed LDF MLAs Karat Razak and P.T.A. Rahim had sparked a controversy. The MLAs had attended the opening of the office of a private firm in Dubai. Rahim said Abu Lais was a relative and he saw nothing wrong in a photo with him. He said he knew there was a lookout notice for Abu Lais, but argued that it was not his duty to hand him over to the police.
Karat Razak said there was nothing wrong in attending a function with a voter though it was known that there was a case against him.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) said Abu Lais had visited Kerala many times via Kathmandu. The police in Uttar Pradesh once caught him during one of his journeys to Kerala from Kathmandu via that state. DRI officials said he escaped using his influence.
There were allegations that the some policemen were helping people charged with COFEPOSA (Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Act). Since the police did not care to arrest them, the DRI had to do it directly. The DRI said it is not possible for those charged under Cofeposa to frequent the state by evading the intelligence machinery.
The DRI had on August 10, 2015, arrested T.M. Shahabaz of Koduvalli, leader of the gang led by Abu Lais which smuggled 39 kilos of gold from Dubai through airports including Kozhikode. He was jailed, but fled after two months after he emerged on bail. Abdul Lais and Nabeel of Ancharakandi in Kannur are key figures in this gang. Lookout notices had been issued in their names.