Gold-smuggling scam accused Swapna Suresh alleged that former minister and CPI(M)-backed MLA KT Jalil had written to the UAE government to ban the Malayalam daily Madhyamum in that country.
Jalil admitted that he had written such a letter but only demanded appropriate action against the daily.
Suresh made allegations against Jalil in an affidavit in the Kerala High Court on Friday regarding his plea to quash a criminal case registered against him. The case was registered against Suresh last month when he alleged that the chief minister’s family had sent bags full of currency notes to the UAE.
In his affidavit in the high court, Suresh alleged that Jalil wrote to the UAE government in June 2020 that the Madhyamum daily should be banned after the newspaper published reports on Covid-19 deaths of expatriates in that country. He (Jalil) wanted strict action against the newspaper because the daily’s report disrespected the UAE rulers, he said.
Suresh alleged that after writing to the UAE government against Madhyam, Jalil contacted the UAE Consul General (in Thiruvananthapuram). “He mailed to the Consul General and sent me his details through WhatsApp reminding us of his letter. After the smuggling case emerged (July 2020), he failed to follow up on the claim. Jalil wanted to read the good books of the UAE government,” said Suresh.
In response to the allegations, Jalil said he had written to the UAE authorities against the magazine. “What I demanded was appropriate action against the daily. I sent the mail from my personal id. I do not find any violation of protocol in the issue,” he said.
The Left MLA’s demand for action against the media has embarrassed the CPI(M), which claims to stand for freedom of expression. Also, Jalil’s admission that he had written to the UAE government lends credence to Suresh’s allegations. When he raised serious allegations against the government’s political leadership, the CPI(M) tried to deflect from the fact that Suresh had no credibility.
A report in Madhyamum, which clearly irked Jalil, alleged a lukewarm approach by the state and center in bringing back expatriates during the pandemic days. The Kerala-based newspaper has an edition in the Middle East.
The moderate Jamaat-e-Islami, promoted by Kerala, remained with the Left until the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Earlier this year, when the central government banned the Jamaat-e-Islami-backed news channel, Media One TV, citing security reasons. , the CPI(M) strongly rebuked the Centre, saying the move reflected the Sangh Parivar’s intolerance towards the media. The matter is pending before the Supreme Court, which lifted the ban in an interim order.
CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told the media that the demand to ban newspapers is not party policy.