Bar bribery case: Voice clip refers to federation's building fund, says Animon

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Animon. Photo: Special arrangement

Thiruvananthapuram: Animon, the president of the Idukki district chapter of the Federation of Kerala Hotels Association, has refuted allegations about his involvement in the latest bar bribery scandal. According to reports, Animon informed the Crime Branch that he sent a voice message to retaliate against the Federation president who pressurised him to collect more funds for the purchase of a building in Thiruvananthapuram. This corroborates  the version offered by the Federation President V Sunil Kumar.

He had previously stated that Animon's message pertained to the building fund and clarified that only Rs 4.5 crore of the total Rs 6.2 crore required for the building collection had been collected thus far. According to Animon, Kumar allegedly publicly criticised and pressurised him as the Idukki chapter had the lowest collection. Animon added that he was uncertain why he used the term 'bribe' in the message and dismissed accusations of attempting to bribe the government as unfounded.

A special team from the Crime Branch, under the leadership of DySP Binu Kumar, is investigating the alleged bar bribery claims in the state. Superintendent of Police Madhusoodhanan from the Crime Branch's Thiruvananthapuram unit will oversee the investigation.

The controversy arose following the circulation of an audio clip purportedly featuring a member of a bar association soliciting funds from other members in exchange for a favourable liquor policy. This development sparked a political uproar amid reports suggesting that the Kerala government was considering abolishing 'dry days' (days when alcohol sales are prohibited in the state). In the leaked message, Animon is heard allegedly demanding Rs 2.5 lakh from each member of the association. Although the voice message, circulated within the WhatsApp group of organization members from Idukki, was later deleted, it stirred considerable controversy within the industry.

The Federation of Kerala Hotels Association denied the accusations, emphasising that no funds were collected from its members to influence liquor policy. 

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