Bar bribery allegations surface again, voice message demanding Rs 2.5 lakh from owners leaked

Representational image. Photo: istock

Thiruvananthapuram: Allegations of bar bribery have resurfaced in Kerala following the emergence of a WhatsApp voice message, stirring up concerns over corruption within the state's liquor industry. The voicemail, purportedly sent by a prominent figure within the Federation of Kerala Hotel Association, hints at soliciting funds in exchange for favorable liquor policies.

In the leaked message, Animon, the president of the Idukki district chapter, is heard demanding a substantial sum of Rs 2.5 lakh from individuals. This development comes amidst ongoing deliberations on a new liquor policy, addressing the demands of bar owners, including the avoidance of dry days and the extension of operating hours.

"Nobody will help us without paying. Those capable of paying Rs 2.5 lakh should do so. A new liquor policy will be formulated after the elections, incorporating changes regarding dry days. To achieve this, you must provide the required funds," states the voice message.

According to transcripts of the WhatsApp communication allegedly sent by Animon to bar owners, these directives were conveyed on behalf of the organization's state president. This revelation comes at a crucial juncture as discussions regarding a new liquor policy are ongoing, addressing various demands from bar owners, including the avoidance of dry days and extensions to operating hours.

The voicemail, which circulated within the WhatsApp group of organization members from Idukki, was later deleted, but not before causing a stir within the industry.

An executive meeting of the bar owners' association convened recently in Kochi. Animon says that he sent the directives from the venue of the meeting. While not explicitly denying the authenticity of the recording, Animon expressed a desire to verify its content. State President V Sunil Kumar, while acknowledging the Kochi meeting, vehemently denied issuing any instructions for fund collection.

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