Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Health Minister Veena George spiritedly batted for her personal staff member Akhil Mathew after he was accused of taking a bribe of Rs 1 lakh for offering a job at Ayush Kendra.
In an explosive expose, a Malappuram native Haridasan Kummali told the media that he paid the minister's staff Rs 1 lakh and Rs 75,000 to Pathanamthitta CITU leader Akhil Sajeev to ensure that his daughter-in-law Dr Nitha Raj got a temporary job at Ayush Kendra.
Talking to the reporters, Veena George denied the allegations and called it a fake one. "An investigation will be conducted into who is behind such fake allegations," she said.
Talking to Manorama News, Haridasan said the series of events began after his daughter-in-law applied for a job after the National Ayush Mission called for applications. "After she applied for the post, we were contacted by Akhil Sajeev, who was the Pathanamthitta CITU office secretary. He said that there is no point in us applying or writing tests, as the appointments are done by them. He said we should give Rs 15 lakh -- Rs 5 lakh in parts and Rs 10 lakh after three years when the post is made permanent -- to secure the job," he said.
Haridasan said he wire-transferred Rs 25,000 to Akhil. As he was asked to meet Akhil Mathew at the minister's office, he went to Thiruvananthapuram on April 10 and handed over Rs 1 lakh to him near an auto stand. He was also apparently told that Akhil Mathew is the minister's relative.
Though an appointment order came in an email, which claimed Dr Nitha would be posted at Chetana Hospital at Vandur, Haridasan said they neither received the promised order in the mail nor got the job.
When Haridasan approached the minister's office with the complaint, he was asked to give it in writing, Manorama News reported.
The health minister's office said the staff have handed over a complaint against Haridasan to the DGP. The police are investigating based on Akhil Mathew's complaint instead of Haridasan's, as per reports.
Those who filed false complaint against PS should be brought to book: Veena George
Talking to the media, Veena George explained that a person had approached her private secretary (PS) outside her office and complained to him that money was paid to another person to secure a temporary appointment under the National Ayush Mission (NAM). “The PS informed me about the development and I instructed him to tell the man to give his complaint in writing. We received the complaint by registered post on September 13. It said that money was paid to a member of my personal staff also. I questioned my personal staff about it. He said that he had no knowledge about the incident and substantiated his statement with facts,” said Veena George.
“Subsequently, I asked my PS to file a police complaint and inform the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) about the developments. We informed the matter to the CMO on September 20 and filed the police complaint on September 23,” she said.
“We have asked the police to unravel the real facts. Those who have filed a false complaint against my personal staff should be brought to book. Giving as well as taking bribes is wrong. Let the police investigate. We have scientific proof. Wrongdoers will not be spared,” the minister said.
She also denied that her office was misused. “There is no chance for an email to be sent from my office. Does a minister’s office send mail for temporary appointments?” she said.
Veena George also said that Akhil Mathew was not her relative. “Anybody can verify this fact. He had only worked in my office,” she said.
Police take Akhil Mathew’s statement
Meanwhile, the police have started an investigation over the complaint filed by Akhil Mathew against Haridasan's allegation. Officers from the Cantonment police station recorded his statement after he submitted a complaint to the City Police Commissioner.
Akhil Sajeev into fraudulent activities in the past too: CITU
CITU's Pathanamthitta District Secretary P B Harshakumar alleged that Akhil Sajeev, who allegedly took Rs 1 lakh as a bribe from Haridasan, has engaged in fraudulent activities in the past too. Apparently, he embezzled Rs 3 lakh with forged seal in the past. He has also cheated people by promising them jobs in Titanium and Kerala Tourism, said Harshakumar.
Serious allegations: Opposition
Opposition leader V D Satheeshan said the delay in handing over the complaint was a serious lapse from the Kerala health minister. It should be probed whether bribes were taken for other job postings in the health department as well, he said.