Election bribery case: SC/ ST Act invoked against BJP Kerala president K Surendran

Crime Branch submits interim report, five other BJP leaders indicted. If convicted, they will face a prison term of up to five years.

Published: 07th June 2022 06:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th June 2022 06:21 PM   |  A+A-

Kerala BJP state president K Surendran. (Photo | Express)

Kerala BJP state president K Surendran. (Photo | Express)

Express News Service

KASARAGOD: After a year-long investigation into the Manjeshwar election bribery case, the Crime Branch has charged BJP state president K Surendran and five party leaders under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for allegedly forcing a rival candidate from withdrawing his nomination papers.

According to investigating officers, Surendran and others were charged with Section 3 (1) (l) (B) which deals with forcing or intimidating a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe community to withdraw his nomination papers.

The other persons indicted in the case are BJP's district leaders BJP district secretary Manikanda Rai; BJP's Manjeshwar constituency secretary Suresha Y; Surendran's confidant in Kozhikode Sunil Kumar alias Sunil Naik; former district president Balakrishna Shetty; and party worker Logesh Londa.

In an interim report submitted before the Kasaragod Judicial First Class Magistrate Court - II on Tuesday (June 7), the Crime Branch charged the BJP state president and others also with criminal intimidation (Section 506 (1) of the IPC), and wrongful confinement (Section 342 of IPC).

The charge under the SC-ST Prevention of Atrocities Act is non-bailable and if convicted, the accused face a prison term of six months to five years.

According to a complaint filed by K Sundara, BJP leaders kidnapped him and gave him Rs 2.5 lakh and a mobile phone worth Rs 15,000 to withdraw his nomination papers from the Manjeshwar Assembly election in May 2021.

Sundara -- a Yakshagana artiste from a Scheduled Tribe community -- was fielded by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Manjeshwar in 2021 because he garnered 467 votes in the 2016 Assembly election as an independent candidate.

In 2016, BJP's Surendran lost to Indian Union Muslim League's P B Abdul Razak by 89 votes. Several BJP leaders blamed Sundara for the defeat of Surendran and believed he might have got some BJP votes because of the similarity in names.

On June 7, 2021, exactly one year ago, the Kasaragod Judicial First Class Magistrate Court - II directed the Crime Branch to register an FIR against the BJP state president for allegedly bribing K Sundara to pull out of the Assembly election in Manjeshwar. Under the court's direction, Badiadka police registered a case under section 171 (B) of the IPC for election bribery, which has a punishment of up to one year.

A month after the election, Sundara alleged that BJP leaders Suresha and Ashok Shetty took him away from his house on March 20, a Saturday.

He said BJP leader Surendran's confidant Sunil Naik, and Suresha gave him Rs 2.5 lakh.

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On March 21, Sunil Naik from Kozhikode posted on Facebook four photographs of him posing with Sundara and his mother from the candidate's house at Vaninagar in Enmakaje panchayat. He wrote: "In 2016, Sundara contested as an independent candidate. This time, Sundara, who is also a Yakshagana artiste, decided to withdraw his nomination for K Surendran because he did not want to hamper the chances of the BJP leader who had valiantly led the struggle to protect the customs of Sabarimala. Last time, Sundara had got 467 votes and Surendran had lost by 89 votes".

On March 22, Monday -- the last date to withdraw nomination papers -- Sundara withdrew from the election.

An investigating officer said Surendran is the accused No. 1 in the case because he was the direct beneficiary of Sundara exiting the election.

Yet, BJP's Surendran lost by a wider margin of 1,143 votes to IUML's A K M Ashraf in 2021.


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