[Reader-list] Flatgate in Kerala.

A. Mani a.mani.cms at gmail.com
Wed Jul 25 23:44:09 IST 2012


Flatgate in Kerala:

‘Whistle Blowers’ Caught Naked

N S Sajith

MOST of the journalists who are hand in glove with the Congress and
other UDF bosses in the current anti-CPI(M) conspiracy boast that they
are waging a war against the vices in the communist movement in
Kerala. For the last three months they have launched an all out attack
on CPI(M) in the name of Chandrashekharan murder investigation. The
unholy nexus between media and police was explicitly exposed by
Deshabhimani by publishing mobile phone call details between some
journalists and police officers in the Special Investigation Team
formed to investigate the murder. It was revealed that the DySP had
made over 3000 phone calls, most of which were to journalists.

Now, another new revelation, on the basis of a document received by
Deshabhimani and Indian Express through Right to Information Act, has
once again proved the unholy and unethical nexus between the
government and the right wing media. According to the news published
by these two newspapers, 54 senior journalists have together defaulted
on a payment of Rs 19.37 crore for residential flats they secured from
Kerala State Housing Board (KSHB) 12 years back under a special scheme
for journalists. They were also lobbying with the government to waive
this huge amount.

In 2000, KSHB had launched a scheme for providing residential flats to
journalists. Under this scheme, 54 two bedroom and three bed room
flats were constructed in NCC Nagar in Peroorkada in
Thiruvananthapuram Corporation area. A price of Rs 7.62 lakh was fixed
for a two bedroom flat and Rs 10.28 lakh for a three bedroom flat. The
price of the flats was fixed by the KSHB after deducting an existing
government subsidy of Rs 50,000 for journalists against their housing
loans. But no journalist has paid the installments, disregarding the
frequent notices from the KSHB. The defaulters include 11 journalists
from Malayala Manorama, Kerala’s largest-selling daily, and five from
Mathrubhumi, the second largest daily in the state.

They also include the Kerala resident editor of Deccan Chronicle-Asian
Age, John Mary, Kerala Kaumudi deputy editor P P James, Malayala
Manorama bureau chief John Mundakkayam and Congress mouthpiece
Veekshanam resident editor J Ajith Kumar. Most of the defaulters
actually have one or more other houses and therefore had given these
KSHB flats to others on rent. According to the scheme, only
journalists who are not possessing homes are eligible for the
allotment of the flats.

The allottees occupied the flats after paying Rs 1.25 lakh each. The
equated monthly installment (EMI) for the flats was within the range
of Rs 2500-4000. While five of the 54 journalists paid the first few
instalments, the rest have not paid even a single instalment after
taking possession of the property. Further, 23 of the 54 journalists
gave the houses on rent in violation of norms and without the approval
of the KSHB. With interest on the unpaid loans mounting, each loan has
now grown to between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 29 lakh.

In 2004, the Congress-led government was said to be in favour of
writing the loans off but did not go through with the plan. The Left
Democratic Front government which followed did not give in to the
pressure from the journalists and asked them to clear their dues
through a one-time settlement plan. But the journalists bought time
through their collective pressure, the sources said. They said
successive housing ministers would seek the opinion of the finance and
housing departments over writing these dues off and the departments
would always oppose the proposal.

It remains to be seen what these ‘whistle-blower’ right wing
journalists have to say about this Flatgate scandal. Given their
brazenness, they are likely to brush this off as a CPI(M)-inspired
attack against them. But the people can now clearly see the nexus
between this media and the UDF bosses. On the other hand, this nexus
is nothing new also. The never-ending tirade of the right wing media
against the Left actually started right from the inception of
Communist Party in Kerala. In every historic juncture, this media
showed its real colours.



Battered by an expose by Deshabhimani daily on the nexus between media
and police officers in the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in charge
of T P Chandrashekharan murder case, the Kerala police has registered
cases against Deshabhimani and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). On
July 10, Deshabhimani had published a news story based on the details
of mobile phone calls made by DySP Josy Cherian of SIT to the media
persons in order to publish news against CPI(M) leaders’ alleged
involvement in Chandrashekharan’s murder.

The cases have been registered on the basis of complaints filed by
DySP Josy Cherian of SIT against both Deshabhimani and BSNL. According
to the complaints, BSNL has leaked the phone call details and
Deshabhimani has published a story to defame him. Vadakara Rural DySP
Rajmohan told newspersons that the investigation has started as the
police served a notice to the nodal officer of BSNL.

Director General of Police, Jacob Punnose, said that no phone calls
have been leaked but only the call details of investigating officers.
He pointed out that the mobile phone companies have been directed to
provide phone details only officers of the rank of SP. The police will
investigate how the call details were leaked to other persons. He
added that the state police has no power to control the mobile phone
service providers.



C H Ashokan, CPI(M) Onchiyam area secretary, who was imprisoned in
connection with T P Chandrashekharan murder case, secured bail from
High Court. Ashokan, former general secretary of Kerala Non Gazetted
Officers Union, was taken into police custody on the pretext of
seeking answers for some queries of Special Investigation Team (SIT)
probing the Chandrashekharan murder. He was later arrested and
remanded by Vadakara court.

On July 13, the High Court single bench judge N K Balakrishnan granted
the bail with stringent conditions. The court has directed him not go
out of Kerala without its permission. Advocate K Gopalakrishana Kurup,
who appeared for Ashokan, said that the case was registered on the
instruction of leaders of the ruling party. Ashokan was freed from
Kozhikode district jail on July 16.



At the call of the CPI(M) central leadership, lakhs of people in
Kerala courted arrest on July 12 in a massive struggle against the
central government’s neo-liberal policies that are resulting in the
sky rocketing price rise. Picketings were organised in front of the
state government offices in area centres that were attended by
thousands of people. Workers, kisans, agricultural labourers, women,
youth are among the sections of people that participated in the

In Thiruvananthapuram, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member M A Baby inaugurated
the picketing in front of the state secretariat. Thousands of people
gathered at the Martyrs column near Palayam and marched towards
secretariat. Addressing the protestors, M A Baby said that both the
central and state governments were pushing the people towards mass
suicides. The food coupon scheme will intensify the sufferings of the
people, he said.

In Kannur, central committee member P K Srimathi inaugurated the
picketing. In Kochi, CC member M C Josephine participated in the



A. Mani

A. Mani

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