Bengaluru: Controversy has erupted over Kerala Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel receiving kits containing food and the Holy Quran from the UAE consulate during the holy month of Ramzan in May.
CPI(M) leader Jaleel is being probed by the Customs department for a possible “protocol violation” under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), as well as his links to Kerala gold smuggling case prime accused Swapna Suresh, which are being highlighted by opposition parties.
Several calls and text messages from ThePrint to Jaleel went unanswered. However, he did put out a statement in response to the FCRA violation allegations, and asked whether facilitating the distribution of the Holy Quran in Kerala was an “anti-national” activity.
“What is wrong in giving copies of the Quran in mosques? As long as the Holy Quran is not banned in India, what mistake has been committed? Do the opposition parties think that the Holy Quran cannot be loaded into a government vehicle? If so, they should be open about it,” he stated.
Also read: NIA, ED probe ‘link’ between Kerala gold smuggling racket and PFI, anti-CAA protests
The alleged violation
The Kerala Customs department has begun an internal probe and sent a notice to the state protocol officer, asking under what sections the consignment received by Jaleel was exempted.
The allegation against Jaleel is that not only did he receive gifts as a state minister, but also that he used a government agency to receive it. According to reports, Jaleel received the Ramzan kits from the UAE consulate through the Consumerfed, an apex body of consumer cooperative stores, controlled by the Kerala government.
The code of conduct set for ministers clearly states that they cannot accept gifts worth more than Rs 5,000. Gifts above that valuation should be routed through the Ministry of External Affairs and cannot be directly accepted by state or central ministers.
Jaleel had earlier stated that a thousand Ramzan kits, amounting to around Rs 5 lakh, were received by a couple of institutions in his constituency of Thavanoor in Malappuram. He also put out a statement clarifying that the report by Malayalam newspaper Mathrubhumi that claimed that he had violated FCRA rules was untrue.
In a Facebook post, Jaleel went on to share numbers of the educational institutions where the holy book was distributed, and a screenshot of a discussion between him and the UAE consulate on where the food kits and the Quran copies needed to be delivered.
Legal expert Renjith Marar say there is no doubt Jaleel has committed an FCRA violation.
“K.T. Jaleel’s acceptance of the foreign contribution is a violation of the FCRA rules. Though the receipt is not of currency, it would still be considered as contribution under the act. Therefore, Jaleel’s actions of receiving the gift would attract section 35 or section 36 of the act, which is punishable with imprisonment,” Marar said.
Union minister alleges three violations
Union Minister of State for External Affairs and former Kerala BJP chief V. Muraleedharan told ThePrint that all aspects of the matter were being ascertained.
However, he alleged that Jaleel committed three violations and then tried to justify operating through WhatsApp messages. “No communication between two countries takes place via WhatsApp,” Muraleedharan said.
“In a secular state, as a minister, using government machinery to distribute the Quran is a violation. Second, there are allegations that it was not Qurans that he distributed but something else. Third, he has no business directly dealing with the UAE consulate,” the minister said.
“There is a development today… The customs protocol officer has said that no exemptions were given under diplomatic cargo. The Kerala CM must take cognisance and action,” he added.
The Kerala BJP also took up the issue and said the Holy Quran was also received by a department under Jaleel, and a detailed probe was necessary.
Link with Swapna Suresh
A WhatsApp conversation of Jaleel with the UAE Consulate General, being circulated by the opposition parties, allegedly shows the involvement of gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh, with the minister purportedly saying she will coordinate the transaction.
Their link had already been highlighted during the investigation into the gold smuggling case, in which the minister had made several calls to the former UAE consulate employee and Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited manager. Jaleel confirmed he did make the calls, but for official purposes.
The Congress has decided to raise a storm over the link, with a former Kerala MP who did not want to be identified, saying: “We are going to take this up legally. We will get all the documents needed to expose the links between Jaleel and Swapna Suresh, and how he has violated FCRA rules.”
On the FCRA violation issue, Congress MP Ramesh Chennithala questioned how Jaleel could bring 1,500 kg parcel containing the holy Quran without permission from the Protocol Office of the Kerala government. “It needs to be investigated if any permission was forged. The minister should obey the laws of the land like any citizen,” he said.
Also read: How gold scam’s Swapna Suresh has emerged as Kerala’s new woman villain
Modi had inaugurated the construction of a Hindu Temple in UAE (Abudhabi) 2 years ago. The construction of the temple is going on. Now when UAE is sending Quran copies for distribution among Muslims in India, can India say no? So far India Govt has not made any comments in this regard.
Two comments: One: Asato ma satgamaya, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya, mrtyor ma amrtam gamaya” (B. Upanishad ,1.3.28). “Let noble thoughts come to us from everyside” (Rigveda,1.89-i). Second: Gamaliel’s advice to the Jews: “Let them be alone; for if this plan/this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found OPPOSING GOD” (Acts of the Apostles 5:38-39, RSV BIBLE).
He should distribute bhagavatGeeta to muslims and show his secular credintials.an his personal level.not using government machinery.face the music ..selected indian leader jaleel.
If Hindu minister did the same thing like distributing Geeta by this time he would have resigned. Minority appeasement will destroy this country secular fabric
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