Kerala Crime Branch files charge sheet against state BJP president K Surendran, CK Janu in poll bribery case

The police accused Surendran of conspiracy, destroying evidence, and attempting to influence people by pumping in money.

ByK A Shaji

Published Nov 15, 2023 | 7:34 PM Updated Nov 15, 2023 | 7:59 PM

K Surendran

The Crime Branch of the Kerala Police on Wednesday, 15 November, filed a charge sheet against state BJP president K Surendran in the 2021 poll bribery case.

The charge sheet was submitted to a magistrate court at Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad a day after the police questioned Surendran and two others, including tribal activist CK Janu. Prashant Malavayal, the BJP’s Wayanad district general secretary, is the third accused.

The proceedings in the case would be crucial for Surendran, as he has already been charge-sheeted in a similar case at Manjeswaram in Kasaragod, Kerala’s northernmost district.

The fresh charge sheet accused Surendran of conspiracy, destroying evidence, and trying to fudge people’s mandates by pumping in money.

The police claimed that digital evidence was submitted along with the charge sheet.

Related: Kerala BJP chief Surendran granted bail in poll bribery case

Forensic tests confirm Surendran’s voice

Forensic reports confirmed that the voice in the audio clips — submitted as evidence in the case — was that of Surendran, said police sources.

The audio was released by Praseeda Azhikode, a dissident leader of Janu’s outfit, the Janadhipathya Rashtriya Party (JRP).

CK Janu. (Facebook)

CK Janu. (Facebook)

After Janu’s crushing defeat in the 2021 Assembly elections, Praseeda alleged that Surendran had given Janu ₹10 lakh as a bribe on the condition that she must return to the NDA before the polls. She was the NDA candidate in Sulthan Bathery.

Praseeda also released an audio clip of her purported conversation with Surendran in which he admitted that Janu wanted ₹10 lakh to join the NDA before the election and to become its candidate.

In the audio clip, a man — purportedly Surendran — agreed to hand over the money in Thiruvananthapuram on 6 March, 2021.

Praseeda also alleged that Surendran paid Janu another ₹25 lakh for contesting the polls as the NDA candidate and, as per the deals, the total bribery amount was ₹35 lakh.

Praseeda released the two audio clips to support her allegations. She said the amounts mentioned in the second audio clip were handed over to Janu inside a temple in Sulthan Bathery, hidden in a bag containing materials for temple rituals.

The police registered a case against Surendran, Janu, and Prashant under IPC Sections 171 E (punishment for bribery) and 171 F (punishment for undue influence or personation in elections).

Investigating officials told South First that the forensic report, confirming the voice in the audio clips as that of Surendran, would strengthen the case.

“We received forensic reports on 15 electronic devices, including mobiles that were sent for analysis. The results support the charges,” an investigating officer said on the condition of anonymity.

Though the crime branch repeatedly directed Surendran to hand over his mobile phone, he refused, saying that the one he used at that time was no more in his possession.

Related: Kerala BJP chief faces non-bailable charges in election corruption case

‘Bid to tarnish BJP’s reputation’

On Tuesday, after testifying before the investigators, Surendran told reporters that the accusations were baseless and fabricated by the Pinarayi Vijayan government with ulterior motives.

Surendran said the complaint of a Muslim League leader prompted the filing of the lawsuit, which was the outcome of a political plot.

He added that the police summoned him for questioning after two years. The government has been trying to tarnish the BJP’s reputation by using the police, he alleged.

He said that the government was attempting to distance itself from the numerous accusations it has been facing by fabricating cases against political figures.

Indian Union Muslim League leader PK Navas had filed a petition at a local court against the slow progress of the investigation. Based on his petition, the court directed the Crime Branch to summon Surendran.

Related: Surendran faces non-bailable charges in election corruption case

The Manjeshwaram case

In Manjeshwaram, Surendran allegedly offered money to K Sundara, the BSP candidate in the same constituency, to withdraw his nomination.

He apparently feared that Sundara would take away a share of his votes due to the similarity in their names.

Surendran lost to IUML candidate AKM Ashraf in Manjeswar by a narrow margin of 745 votes.

On 25 October, the Kasaragod Sessions Court granted bail to all Manjeswaram election bribery case defendants, including Surendran, but the legal process would continue.

As per the prosecution, Sundara was enticed, threatened to withdraw his nomination, and offered a bribe of ₹2.5 lakh and a mobile phone.

Defendants in the lawsuit also include former Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha state treasurer Sunil Naik, former BJP district president KK Balakrishna Shetty, and leaders Suresh Naik, K Manikanda Rai, and Lokesh Nonda.