After Karuvannur, CPM faces backlash from 'comrades' who deposited in defunct BDS units

Protesters clash with the police outside a processing unit of Malabar Meat under the Brahmagiri Development Society at Manjadi in Sulthan Bathery, Wayand. File photo: Special arrangement

Wayanad: The CPM that is embroiled in the Karuvannur Bank fraud is set to face further backlash as more than 500 depositors in the party-controlled Brahmagiri Development Society (BDS) have planned a massive protest demanding a refund.

BDS, an agrarian cooperative entity under the Department of Dairy Development in Wayanad, had plunged into a financial abyss after suffering an estimated loss of Rs 100 crore. Individuals who deposited in various BDS projects are owed around Rs 68 crore. Besides, the loans from primary cooperative banks and employees' cooperative societies amount to another Rs 20 crore.

The Brahmagiri Depositors Action Council has said its members, most of whom are CPM supporters, have decided to launch an indefinite agitation against the government and the party from October 15.

Before that, a meeting of the depositors is planned at Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad on October 10.

CPM's Thrissur district leadership kept Karuvannur bank fraud under wraps
Karuvannur Cooperative Bank. File photo: Manorama

Murali LR, president of the action council, told Onmanorama that they have no other choice as they feel the government and the CPM have failed them. “Most of us were party sympathizers and it was our faith in the party and the government that led us to invest our lifetime earnings in the projects,” said Murali.

He says BDS was a nodal agency for the various projects announced by the government in which they invested. “Rather than the failure in keeping promises, the neglect of party leaders towards depositors is worrying us more,” Murali said.

District Collector in a fix
The depositors are also upset with Wayand District Collector Renu Raj for not taking up their complaint. A prominent trade union activist, who prefers anonymity, told Onmanorama that they approached the collector expecting a solution.

Renu Raj
Wayanad Collector Renu Raj.

The activist, who himself is one of the depositors, said they expected the collector to convene a meeting. Instead, the collector forwarded the complaints to the District Police Chief, who in turn directed the Meenangadi Police to enquire.

The complainants came to know about this when they were contacted by the police. “We told the police that we are not interested in approaching them at this point as we don’t want to be caught in a prolonged legal tussle,” he said.

Meanwhile, a source close to the collector said she was helpless as the BDS is a cooperative entity controlled by a governing body with at least five senior government officials including two IAS officers, who were nominated by the state government.

BDS leadership express hope for revival
Meanwhile, the BDS authorities are still hopeful of a revival even as its various projects, including Wayanad Coffee, Kerala Chicken and Malabar Meat have been shut down. The processing unit of Malabar Meat, which was the flagship project of BDS, has been left to rust without even a security guard on the premises.

Chicken processing line at Malabar Meat. Photo: Special arrangement

BDS Chairman PK Suresh told Onmanorama that the government is actively considering a revival package. “We are hopeful that once we restart the Malabar Meat unit and stabilize the meat production and distribution by activating outlets, we will be able to start repaying the depositors,” said Suresh.

He says a high-level meeting at scheduled in Thiruvananthapuram last month was postponed due to the death of prominent agricultural scientist, M S Swaminathan. Suresh said most of the officials went to attend the cremation and couldn't be at the meeting.

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