The probe into the Rs 3.5-crore Kodakara hawala robbery case appears to be leading to the top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kerala.
On Saturday, the special investigation team, which is probing the robbery, questioned Dipin, secretary to BJP State President K Surendran.
The money was looted on April 3 at Kodakara in Thrissur district (on the Thrissur-Ernakulam Highway) just three days before the Kerala Assembly election.
The vehicle carrying Rs 3.5 crore was driven by Kozhikode resident Shamjeer Shamsuddin. When it reached Kodakara, A group of men in two cars blocked the vehicle alleging a fake traffic incident, assaulted Shamjeer and looted the money. The incident came to light when another Kozhikode resident Dharmarajan filed a complaint to the police that Rs 25 lakh, which was meant for a land deal in Ernakulam, was looted from Kodakara. Preliminary investigation by the police revealed that the actual amount was Rs 3.5 crore and the hawala money was meant for BJP's election campaign.
K Surendran had contested from two seats - Konni in Pathanamthitta district and Manjeswaram in Kasaragod district - in the recent Assembly election. He lost both the seats.
Investigators collected evidence from Konni and visited places where BJP State president K Surendran and his party colleagues had stayed during their campaign in the constituency.
'BJP offered money to withdraw nomination'
In another damning revelation, a local BSP leader K Sundara revealed that he backtracked on the decision to contest from Manjeshwar constituency as BJP offered him money and a phone.
Sundara told Manorama News that BJP paid him Rs 2.5 lakh and a phone for withdrawing his nomination. He said he was also promised a licence for running a wine parlour if Surendran was elected. Sundara had submitted his nomination to contest the polls. However, he withdrew the papers and joined BJP later. He said he had demanded Rs 15 lakh from BJP. Sundara had contested the 2016 assembly polls and polled 467 votes. Surendran lost the polls by 89 votes to IUML's P B Abdul Razak.
BJP Kasaragod president K Sreekanth denied Sundara’s statement. He said the CPM and IUML were behind the allegation.
Suresh Gopi’s statement to be recorded
The police team probing the hawala case is likely to record the statement of Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi who had contested the recent assembly elections from Thrissur constituency as the BJP candidate.
The police recently found that Dharmarajan and his team had visited Suresh Gopi's election committee office in Thrissur during the campaign, Manorama News reported.
K Muraleedharan seeks judicial probe
Congress leader K Muraleedharan on Saturday sought a judicial inquiry into the hawala money case. The Vatakara MP said Surendran's decision to contest from two constituencies was dubious. "The government should investigate if money was smuggled during Surendran's helicopter trips between the two constituencies. It also needs to be found out if the helicopter's rent was included in his election expenses," he said.