Alappuzha: The CPM has taken stern action against two party members who were found to be involved in a tobacco smuggling case in Karunagappally.
Ijas Ahamed, the prime accused in the case, was expelled from the party, while A Shanavas was suspended pending investigation. Ijas is a member of the party's Sea View Ward west branch. A Shanavas is the chairman of the welfare standing committee of Alappuzha Municipality and a member of the CPM area committee.
A commission comprising the party's district secretariat members -- G Harisankar, G Venugopal and K H Babujan -- has been appointed to probe the allegations against Shanavas.
A decision in this regard was taken at the district secretariat meeting held on Tuesday night. Minister Saji Cheriyan attended the meeting. It was also decided to investigate whether more party members are involved in the case.
Banned tobacco products worth Rs 1 crore that were being smuggled in lorries were seized at Karunagappally last Sunday. A total number of 1,27,410 packets of tobacco products were found in the consignment.
The contraband that was packed in sacks and boxes, was hidden inside a heap of onion bags. The lorry is owned by Shanavas.
Though Shanavas claimed to not know the accused in the case, a photograph showing him with them during a birthday celebration four days before they were arrested in the case emerged earlier. Shanavas said the lorry was leased out to P S Jayan of Kattappana on January 6. The police issued show cause notices to Shanavas and owners of others vehicles from which the intoxicants were seized. The accused stated that the tobacco products were brought from another state.
A Ansar, a native of Alappuzha, is the owner of the second vehicle. According to police, the kingpins behind the racket are Ijas (27), Sajjad (28) of Vellakinar, Alappuzha, who is a DYFI member; and Shamir (39) of Puthentheruvil, Karunagappally. All three have been apprehended, produced in court, and remanded.