India needs guidelines on temple wealth

Treasure pile from the temple. Photo courtesy: http://vakkomsen.blogspot.com/

The finding of Rs 90,000 crore worth treasure in the secret cellars of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum, Kerala continues to be a subject matter of debate. For starters the debate is whether this money should be used for public purpose. The other point that one would observe is that would finding of such wealth in a temple cool the egos of a community which has been up in arms thanks to the large number of funds being remitted from the Gulf which according to estimates is almost equal to the state budget.

Dr Mohanan Pillai, a professor at the Centre for Development Studies at Thiruvananthapuram who has been following this issue very closely takes us through this entire issue. He discusses with us whether finding of such wealth in a temple would close the communal divide in Kerala and also speaks to us about the treasure that was found in the temple.

For starters the wealth in the temple coffers must seen in the light of the politics and religion in the past. This wealth has been preserved for over centuries and now the inventory is being taken. Similar type of wealth is available in other religious institutions and often I wonder why this is being sensationalized.

Yes there is a debate over what needs to be done with this wealth. Unfortunately our country has no guidelines on how this wealth needs to be dealt with. One should look at all the problems that people face and one argument could be that it could be used to alleviate those problems. However the moment this wealth is touched it could be dangerous as it would emerge into a major controversy politically.

According to me some portion of the wealth should be kept in the temple itself. There are ornaments which are used for day to day ceromonies and every year this has been used. Hence there is no question of doing anything with that and it should remain the way it is.

The other part of the wealth does have an antique value to it. This according to me should be kept in a museum. However this museum should be created by the trust of the temple in consultation with the government. It is important that we get to see our national treasure and also ensure that our great grand children get to see the same. Putting up such a museum can attract a lot of people and this would contribute to the economy of the temple.

However the debate is with regard to the coins that were found as part of this treasure. I feel that there should be a political agreement on this. The trust and the government could discuss whether these coins could be possibly transformed for economic development of the state. However this is not easy in the absence of guidelines and there is a major consensus needed on this.

Now coming to the point regarding the close up of the gap in terms of a communal divide in Kerala after wealth to this extent has been found in a Hindu temple. Yes there is a lot of money that is being remitted into Kerala from the Gulf and some people have been feeling that too much contribution is from another community. There was also a feeling of a rich-poor divide due to this factor among a section of the people. Finding of such wealth may satisfy the egos of some. A section of the people may be feeling in Kerala that such wealth in temples puts them in a better position since their community too has wealth.

It is a natural feeling. If you notice, if we have a rich person in the family, we always tend to be quote him or her or try and be associated with that person. The same logic applies over here too. However this may not close the entire gap between the communities since it will not be a general feeling. Yes in some communities this feeling of being rich could make a slight bit of a difference.

There is also another debate that is on regarding the origin of this wealth. Some have said that the king had not contributed to the temple, but had in fact hidden the wealth.

As per the Travancore annexure some wealth had been confiscated by the Raja. Other records would show that this wealth was generated through pepper trade. There is also a considerable amount of wealth that was attained through collection of taxes. Lastly there is also a certain amount of wealth which was given to the temples by the devotees as offering to the deities.

I would not buy the argument that this Raja was hiding the wealth in the temples. In fact we must appreciate the fact that he had not spent this wealth and has kept it for the generations to come. In fact the Maharaja was very particular this temple must be kept as a private one. During the annexation he had bargained for the same and finally the temple was kept as a private one. This gives us the indication that the wealth was not hidden but given to the temple. Unlike the rest of the temples which are under the Devasom board, this one is private and is handled by the trust. Another argument to substantiate my claim that the money was not being hidden is that no member of his family today can stake a claim over this wealth. It is entirely the property of the temple which is being managed by the trust.

There is a record in the palace of Travancore which states the above and how the wealth had been accumulated. Hence one cannot say that there is no record. However it would be good if this record comes out in public so that the confusion is sorted out once and for all. It is very important that one gets to see this record since it can say for sure if this money was tax money or was it a combination of temple offerings and public money.

Why Kerala temple money can’t be used for public purpose

Golden idol of Mahavishnu at Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple. Photo courtesy: http://www.spiderkerala.net/

The Supreme Court today appointed a curator to look after the wealth at the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The treasure has been estimated at Rs 90,000 crore and there is a raging debate on what is to be done with all this wealth. Should it remain in the temple or be put to good use is the question.

The law in such cases is very interesting. Going strictly by the law and the various judgments of the Supreme Court it becomes clear that no one except the diety has a right over this wealth.

A diety in any temple in India as per the law is considered to be a juristic person. A juristic or a legal person is entitled to the wealth that has been given and can also fight a legal battle in case of any problem.

In the instant case all the wealth that has been found has been given to the diety and hence the diety usurps the ownership right over it, thus making it clear that no one else can use this wealth other than the diety.

Advocate General of Karnataka, Ashok Harnahalli explains. All this wealth belongs to the diety since it has been given in the name of the idol. There is a point being made that this wealth should be used for public purpose. However as per the law this is not possible. If ornaments and other treasure has been given to the temple then it is in the name of the diety and hence only the idol has the right over it. The other question is what happens if cash has been given. Here too the money can be used only for the development of the temple and not for any other use. In case the temple administration does decide to realize all these assets into cash, then again the money can be used only for the development of the temple in which the diety is placed.

As per the law and what has been laid by the Supreme Court of India, a diety is a juristic person. It has a legal jurisdiction and is capable of ownership of property. If anyone stakes a claim on this wealth which rightfully belongs to the diety, then it can fight a legal battle seeking its rights. However a diety is always represented by a guardian who would ideally be a member of the trust or the temple.

Take the famous Ayodhya verdict which was pronounced a year back. The legal battle was fought between two parites and one of the litigants was Ram Lalla. In any litigation concerning a temple, it is always the diety which is one of the litigants. The title deed of any temple in India is in the name of the diety and hence it becomes party to the suit.

The Supreme Court of India has clearly stated that a diety is a juristic person. It says that they are beings both real and imaginary to whom the law attributes a personality by way of fiction when there is none in fact. The Supreme Court further adds that a legal person or a juristic person is any entity other than human beings to which the law attributes a personality. The words ‘juristic person’ connote the recognition of an entity to be a person in law which otherwise it is not. In other words, it is not a natural person but an artificially created person which is to be recognised in law as such.

The Supreme Court also added that a juristic person is a holder of rights and duties and can own and dispose of property, can receive gifts, and it can sue and be sued in its name. Idols have been recognised to be juristic persons in Hindu law, which personifies the deity as a legal person. A Hindu idol is recognised by courts as a juristic entity having a judicial status, and its interests are attended to by a person who is in charge of the deity and who under law is its guardian or manager.

When this being the legal position it becomes clear that all talk of using the wealth at the Kerala temple for any other purpose other than the benefit of the temple is not a possibility. Hence if the state government wants to use this wealth for public purpose as is being sought by a few, it would need to go before the Supreme Court and challenge the existing set of laws regarding the ownership rights of a diety.

Will terrorists target temples for wealth?

Will the revelation that Rs 90,000 crore lies at the Sri Padnamanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala given birth to more Ghaznis and Ghoris? History would show at that point of time these emperors looted temples since they were cash rich.

Now it has been pointed out by a couple of experts that making public such large amounts of wealth stashed away in temples would only attract terrorists. While this is one view, the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing says that terrorists would attack temples not with an intention of taking away its wealth but only to create a social divide.

Among all the targets that are in place in India, intelligence agencies still rate places of religious worship high on the list. There have been many instances in the past to show that temples are terror targets and the Akshardham and Varanasi attacks are only proof of that. In addition to this the revealations by David Headley also reveal that he had surveyed a couple of temples which the Lashkar-e-Tayiba wanted to attack.

The question now is whether terrorists would attack places of religious worship for the money stashed in there or would it be to create a divide in society. C D Sahay, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing says, “ I don’t think money would be criteria for terrorists in such cases. Temples are very high on the radar of these terrorist groups and every second ploy of theirs would involve a place of religious worship in it.”

I know that some people are claiming that revealing such wealth could attract terrorist groups. Although we need to be careful, I think it would be a bit far fetched to say that terrorist groups would try to do away with the money in our temples. Research and the pattern with which these groups have been working have shown that their intention is more to create a religious divide and hence they chose to attack temples. They can also stage an attack to create havoc and this again would be on the context of creating a religious divide and not to escape with the wealth. It would be very difficult for them to do so.

Another point I would make over here is which terrorist group today is short of cash? They have enough and more and once they are in the limelight the funds continue to pour in. Take for instance the London blasts and it has been revealed that the attack was carried out with 7000 pounds. This is not big money for these terrorist organizations and they can arrange this in no time. I would not walk that far to say that terrorist groups would attack temples for the money, but their one and only goal would be to cause destruction and a divide.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau point out that guarding of temples is extremely difficult for security agencies. Devotees throng these places in large numbers and find it to be irritating to be frisked and checked at all times. A majority of our temples have bad security due to this reason and this attracts terrorist groups as it makes it an easy target. Moreover we have seen in the past that there has been a religious divide once a place of worship is attacked and these terror groups thrive on such situations. There is a need for the managements of these places to come forward and understand the grave threat there is to these places. More often than not, they are not too cooperative where security measures are concerned which only makes the job of security agencies even more difficult.

Sahay adds that terrorist groups have never believed in religious sanctity. However more importantly it is for the management to realize the importance of safeguarding the wealth which is national treasure. When this news regarding the finding of wealth came out, it worried me a great deal. The money is lying dead and this is a national wastage. I am not saying that this money should be taken out and used right away. It is all contributed by the kings and instead the trust would do well to create assets. The artefacts that have been found should be put out on display in order to display our national heritage so that people would get a better idea of what our civilization would be. Our temples not only represent our religion but also our national heritage.

While terror threats to the temples in Indian continue to loom large the biggest issue that we continue to face is that of bad security. Take the case when an intelligence alert was put out regarding the Madurai Meenakshi temple in Tamil Nadu. The security agencies found it extremely difficult to beef up security since the department for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments was not too forthcoming and providing details regarding the security. Security experts point out this aspect and say that there is a tussle on since the department believes that it would cause a problem for the devotees who come to temples to worship and they would not want a security guard standing in between them and God.

@Kerala, 20k crore is annual remittance through Hawala

The official figure so far as the annual remittance through hawala channels into Kerala is Rs 20000 crore. This figure which is available with the Union Home Ministry tells us the story of this state which has become a hub for extremists.

Today the focus of every possible national agency probing terrorism related cases is focused on Kerala and what one gets to understand is that the situation is going from bad to worse. The factors for such extremism are many. The communally charged up feelings in the state and also the fact that this state is almost a corridor between India and the Gulf.
The hawala remittance into this state is the highest when compared to any other state in India. There is a large population from Kerala which lives in the Gulf and remitting money back home had always been a big worry for these persons. They then started to adopt to the hawala module which helped them transfer large sums of money with ease. Now it is a known fact that terrorists have a big role to play in hawala transactions and hence taking advantage of the situation, they began pumping in their money too. The Kerala government was in the know of money being sent in through hawala channels, but what they did not bother to check was that terrorists too were pumping in money using the same channels and today the problem is immense that they are finding it difficult to clean up.
The National Investigating Agency which has its eyes on this state has also found that large sums of money which has been pumped in from the Gulf had been used to execute the blasts at Delhi, Bangalore and also at Ahmedabad.
The biggest worry for any terrorist group is the finances and with this in place, it became easy for these groups to go about the other jobs. The Indian Intelligence Bureau says that a couple of years back, Kerala was only a corridor to terror in the South. However today the problem is immense and it is without a doubt the main breeding centre for such extremist groups in the country.
Sources say that for the ISI it was easy to set up terror camps in this state. The political will was lacking and elections were far more important compared to national security. Due to politics smaller groups were allowed to grow and a main fighting plank during the elections became communal rioting. This helped such forces to grow and before anyone realised that they had set up base comfortably.


While it was obvious that the nature of this state was changing gradually the first big information regarding the reach of the Kerala cadre was known only when a cell phone belonging to a person by the name Umar was traced. Umar was an operative of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba operating in Kashmir and investigations went on to show that he was from Kannur. Subsequently more news trickled in and it was found that three more persons from Kerala were killed in an encounter in Kashmir. This raised alarm bells among the security agencies who realised that it was probably for the first time that Indian cadres were used in the battle at Kashmir and ironically they were all picked up from Kerala. However of the men, Jabbar who was picked up the police for training stated that he thought they were being taken for training in Islam. I was taken aback when they told me my training would be with arms. In fact we were told if we did not take up arms then our families would be harmed.
According to IB reports, the ISI has set up strong modules of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba in the Gulf. The Oman module is also very strong and the fact is that these modules are directly connected to the modules in Kerala. In fact when the ISI started to set up Gulf modules, it initially had a lot of youth from Uttar Pradesh. However gradually the cadres from UP were being replaced with those from Kerala. These youth were in charge of sending across funds and also pulling out youth from Kerala and sending them for training again using the Gulf route. For the ISI, the Gulf module is one of the strongest today and what works against India is that the Gulf and the Kerala are directly connected. In fact it appears as though modules in the Gulf were formed keeping Kerala in mind.
Although the exact number of Lashkar modules in Kerala are not known, sources say that they could be anything between 50 to 100. The number of sleeper cells is almost double this number they also point out. Most of the cadres in these modules undertake a dual job. During the elections they become party workers and often create the necessary ruckus for politicians. This ensures that they get the immunity which helps them go underground and go about their real job.
In this context it would be pertinent to note the role played by T Nasir, an accused in the Bangalore blasts case. He had become the perfect link between the modules in Kerala and the ISI. He was a part of the Students Islamic Movement of India before it was banned. He then moved out of Kerala and worked in Muscat and Dubai before coming in contact with agents of the ISI. He was asked to recruit youth back in Kerala for terror operations which he did on his return to Kerala.
The likes of Nazir are trained in this job and they constantly keep a watch for youth who have issues abroad. They pick and chose youth with visa or job problems and offer help. While doing so they take them into their fold and convince them to take the extremist route. Once they manage to convince them they are either sent to Pakistan or Bangladesh for training.
Over the past one year there has been a slight change in the manner in which they have been operating. The trips to Pakistan or Bangladesh for the newer recruits are proving to be dangerous for these groups and hence they have decided to set up dedicated training camps in Kerala itself.
Recently the Kerala police seized compact discs and transcripts which had details on the Taliban styled military training. This was just a tip of the ice berg and further investigations led the police to find that there were many training camps in Kerala which followed the Taliban style of training. Such training in Kerala takes place in secluded areas of the state and it is clear that these youth who undergo such training are being prepared for bigger roles.
The expectation from the Kerala modules is that they build up a strong force which can carry out attacks in India. A thorough home bred outfit is what they are looking for following the fall of the Indian Mujahideen. In addition to this they are also expected to provide cadres for the battle in Kashmir and very shortly they would be asked to assist terror groups fighting in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well.
For the Indian agencies the primary worry is however the growth of the home bred extremist groups which they will need to scuttle as soon as possible. Prior to Kerala, the main modules were in Uttar Pradesh, but today Kerala is the clear choice. It takes every investigating agency a while to understand the pattern that is being followed in each state. They managed to overcome the problem in Uttar Pradesh and doing the same in Kerala will not be an issue provided there is political will.
The agencies from across the country also push the case regarding a state more aggressively in case of a terror strike. Kerala has not witnessed a major strike so far and this is a deliberate ploy as per security agencies. Carrying out a strike on a large scale only gathers a lot of attention and this would ensure a complete crackdown. Hence these groups feel that it would be better to go about their acticvities quietly and breed terror for the rest of India. Take the case of Hyderabad which was a major hub for such groups. Today it is relatively quiet due to the crack down by the police and this was largely because of the back to back terror strikes in the city.
The IB says that their investigations do not show one particular group gaining in this state. A lot of splinter groups and also cadres of the IM and the rest have all come together and are setting up their base in Kerala. Over the past year there has also been a lot of movement from UP as well. Kerala does not only provide a safe hiding ground, but also a route to escape into the Gulf once the heat is on.

Is reading the Quran a SIMI activity?

The police say that the activities of the Students Islamic Movement of India has started and this is a worrying sign.The SIMI on the other says if reading the Quran or performing Namaz is considered to be activity, then there is very little to say since every Muslim as long as he is alive will continue to do this (perform Namaz and read the Quran).
Even as the legal battle to lift the ban on SIMI continues to be fought in the Supreme Court of India, the Madhya Pradesh police made a crucial arrest at the Kochi airport a couple of days. The man arrested was
Sainudeen Sainulabudeen, former president of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India.The police claimed that he was being picked up in connection with a case at Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. His questioning will be crucial for the investigating agencies since they will not only look into the existing case on hand, but will also try and find out about the future plans of the SIMI which was banned over a decade back.
However security agencies are reading more into this case and say that the fact that he was arrested in a land which is the strong hold of SIMI is an interesting development. While this is the claim by the security agencies, Dr Shahid Badr Falahi the president of the SIMI at the time of the ban says that this is nothing but a build up for February 2012 when the ban on SIMI has to be re-imposed.
Although several persons in the SIMI state that all this is stage managed to build a case to re-impose the ban, the police say that there are many radicals within the outfit who feel that they should revamp and carry out strikes.
The activities of some of these cadres is still very much on and the point of revamp will be Kerala since they do enjoy a lot of moral support over there. They have deliberately moved out of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh their strong holds since the heat is too high over there. Kerala was a better option for them since there is not only political support for them, but many parts of this state especially, Malapuram, Nadapuram in Kannur and
the Vizhinjam and Poovar areas in Tiruvananthapuram are communally sensitive.
Over the past couple of months Intelligence Bureau inputs suggest that some cadres of the SIMI are becoming aggressive. They have been in touch with several elements sponsored by the ISI in a bid to revamp. The ISI has been missing a dedicated Indian wing to carry out terror strikes on Indian soil. They did manage to rope in some cadres of the SIMI for this purpose and did manage a lot of success at first. However following the ban, a lot of the cadres went underground and several others arrested. This led to the formation of the Indian Mujahideen which did show all of us its capabilities when it carried out a series of attacks across the country. The IB says that the re-vamp of either the SIMI or the IM will be under an entirely new name and this is largely done to confuse investigators.
However Dr Falahi considers all this as nonsense. We were expecting an arrest to take place and our doubts have been clarified. This is a trend that we have been witnessing since the past 5 years. The arrest of Sainudeen Sainulabudeen is nothing but an exercise to build up a case for the ban again next year. The police have decided that any member of the SIMI is nothing but an anti social. What activity are they talking about? If we read the Quran or perform Namaz, does that amount to acticvity? I sit down and speak with my friends and crack a couple of jokes and that becomes Jihadi activity? A Muslim is bound to perform Namaz or read the Quran. How does that become activity in police language? As long as Muslims are alive they will surely do these two things (read the Quran and perform Namaz).
The government will do everything it can to ensure that the ban continues. In any part of India if something wrong is done by a Muslim then they say he is a SIMI member.
Yes about this Safdar Nagori version to the SIMI is something that has been spoken about. I do feel that this is a creation of our security agencies. When I was the President and the day the ban was imposed, I was addressing a huge gathering. That is when the police came to arrest me and did so at the end of it. Nagori too was present at that meeting, but he escaped arrest. Since then he is considered to be a fugitive.
The hope for all us is very distant. The BJP banned us and this so called Secular Congress continued to act on the lie of the BJP. The ban keeps getting re-imposed and we continue to be banned despite we winning the case once before the Commission. Now we are back in the Supreme Court and the case is on. Well if at all we win, I do not know what the fate of SIMI would be.

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Elections-2011-Spendthrifts and misers

The manner in which the MLAs have spent during the recent assembly elections is something that needs to be looked into. Take for instance Tamil Nadu where the figures just do not match up.

The cash seized by ECI’s expenditure observers reached record levels in the last elections, with more than Rs 60 crores seized just from Tamil Nadu. However the analysis show that 76 MLAs declared that they did not spend any money on public meetings, processions etc. This despite each party and candidate claiming huge crowds in their rallies during elections.In Assam 126 MLAs together claim to have spent Rs 9.01 Lakhs, Kerala – Rs 9.39 Lakhs (139 MLAs), West Bengal – Rs 7.06 Lakhs (217 MLAs) and Tamil Nadu – Rs 7.12 Lakhs (234 MLAs), Puducherry – Rs 3.12 Lakhs (39 MLAs).This means that MLAs are claiming that the money spent by them in the recent elections on an average was way below the expense limit. It is 56% for Assam, 50% for Kerala, 39% for Puducherry, 44% for West Bengal and only 45% for Tamil Nadu.

In just one raid, Rs 5.11 crore were seized from a private bus in Tiruchirappalli. In another raid in Madurai, Rs 3.5 Crores were seized, however the highest expenses reported by any MLAs is mere Rs 15.99 lakhs. The top three declarations across the 5 assemblies are from Abu Taher Bepari of INC from Golakganj, Assam(Rs 15.99 lakhs), Smiti Monika Bora of INC from Gohpur, Assam (Rs 15.91 lakhs) and K.T. Pachaimal of AIADMK from Kanniyakumari, TN(Rs 15.73 lakhs).

The lowest expenses declared are by A Soundararajan of CPI(M) from Perambur, TN (Rs 75.6 thousand) followed by Namita Saha of AITC from Magrahat Purba, WB(1.14 Lakhs) and Kashinath Mishra of AITC from Bankura, WB(Rs 1.35 Lakhs). This is in spite of reports of large number of reports of distrubtion of freebies from across the states.

While there was huge discussion on paid news, most MLAs (376 of them) have declared that they did not spend ANY money on campaign through electronic/print media.

183 MLAs declared that they have not spent any money on campaign workers.

While most vehicles were found to be rented during elections and candidates travel in large cavalcades, 8 MLAs have declared that they did not spend any money on vehicles.

10 MLAs have declared that they did not spend any money on any type of campaign materials. 

The election expenses of all MLAs for the recent 5 assembly elections have now been analysed by the Association for Democratic Reforms in association with the National Election Watch. The candidates were to declare all of them within 30 days of election(by 13 June). It took ECI another week to put the scanned copies of them on the web (Jun 20).

There are still 2 days for people to critically analyse these expenses and challenge election of a MLA on under-reporting/hiding expenses.

Although the money power was blatantly at display during the recent elections, the new MLAs to these assemblies (TN, WB, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry) have shown the average amount of total money spent in their election to be only between Rs 3.12 lakhs and Rs 9.39 lakhs (39% and 59% of the limit) in their declarations to the Election Commission of India. Top three spenders from each state: Assam:Abu Tehar Bepari of the Congress spent Rs 15.99 lakh Monika Bora, Congress- Rs 15. 91 lakh Dr Nazrul Islam, Congress- Rs 15. 12 lakh

Kerala:

Basheer, Muslim League- Rs 15.24 lakh

Kunjalikutty, Muslim League-Rs 13.99 lakh

B Sathyan, CPI(M)- Rs 13. 80 lakh

West Bengal:

Smita Bakshi, All India Trinamool Congress- Rs 15.66 lakh

Hamidul Rehman, Independent- Rs 15.21 lakh

Amal Acharjee, AITC- Rs 14.16 lakh

Tamil Nadu:

Pachaimal, AIADMK- Rs 15.73 lakh

Dr Krishnasamy, Puthiya Thamilagam- Rs 15.35 lakhAnita Radhakrishnan, DMK- Rs 15. 04 lakh

Puducherry:

 E Valsaraj, Congress, Rs 5.30 lakhG Nehru, All India N R Congress- Rs 5.12 lakh M Chandrakasu, All India N R Congress- Rs 4.49 lakh

The lowest:

A Soundarajan of CPI(M) from Perambur Constituency in Tamil Nadu- Rs 75000

Namita Saha of the AITC, from the Magrahat Purba constituency in West Bengal- Rs 1.14 lakh

Kashinath Mishra of the AITC from the Bankura constituency in West Bengal- Rs 1.34 lakh

The zero spenders:

Bhupen Ray (AGP- Assam), P R N  Thirumurugan (Congress, Puducherry), A R Ranganathan (AIADMK-Tamil Nadu) and 73 others have declared that they have not spent a single penny  for public meetings, processions etc. There are 376 MLAs from all five states who have stated that they have not spent anything on campaign through electronic/print media. 183 MLAs have stated that they have borne zero expenditure on campaign Workers during the elections. Eight MLAs have declared that they have not spent any money on the use of vehicles during campaigns while 10 have stated that they have not used any money for campaign material.

Death of Kashmiri and the Kerala connection

First the death of Osama Bin Lasden and now the alleged death of Ilyas Kashmiri. There appears to be a pale of gloom in the terror circles of India following the news regarding these two dreaded terrorists. Although both these men limited their role in India, their names were used constantly to recruit as well as motivate cadres in India.

Osama was a key figure in terror circles across India and he was no less than a God to these youth who took the path of terror. However over the past one year, Kashmiri with his blatant statements like Ghazb-e-Hind was gaining a lot of ground especially in Kerala and this was the state the man himself wanted to launch every terrorist attack out of.

Kerala has a lot of splinter groups fighting for the same meaningless cause of Jihad, but what Kashmiri had managed to do was unite these forces. Very recently, Kashmiri had said that all recruitments for Jihad would happen from Kerala. He felt that the cadres from this part of the world had the most determination and also the loyalty factor was immense among them. Moreover picking up cadres from Kerala was always easier for any terror group since the mindset among a lot of youth from this state is pro Pakistan, according to Intelligence Bureau reports. In addition to these communal tensions are extremely high in Kerala and following every communal clash there is a major recruitment drive that always takes place.

Terror groups such as the SIMI and the Indian Mujahideen which are very active in this state had started to lose out over the past couple of years. Most of them had split into several groups and they started to find that there was no focus in their operation. However with Kashmiri deciding that he would launch his attacks from this state, there was a huge change in the mindset of the terror groups. They had found a leader, an inspiration and also a motivation in Kashmiri. He had started to become their next Osama Bin Laden.

Both the police and the Intelligence Bureau have said that it was becoming extremely difficult to stop this phenomenon in Kerala and to a large extent the situation was getting out of control. Not only was there the ideological influence from Pakistan, but the funding from the Gulf made matters even more worse. In the past couple of months, Kashmiri had become a key factor among several youth and they blindly followed him thanks to his warrior status. The fact that he fought with one eye and his bold statements were all inspirational for these youth.

For Kashmiri’s pet project the Ghazb-e-Hind, the recruitment was going to be done primarily from Kerala. The process had already commenced and all these youth were transported across the border to be personally trained by him. The biggest worry for Indian agencies was not only the fact that he was an inspirational leader, but also he taught them to become fierce warriors.

When one looks at a Kashmiri he just believed in a full fledged war. He was the one who brought back life into the Al-Qaeda with his expertise in operations. What made him even more deadly is that he was good in three departments- ideology, planning and execution. There are very few terrorists who possess all these skills. Hence going by his expertise, it becomes clear that the recruits from India were being imparted with very sophisticated training. Intercepts picked up on the Indian youth show that they were being trained in every possible department- use of ammunition, fidayeen strikes, bomb blasts.

His training pattern has been extremely successful considering that he belonged to the Special Services Group of the Pakistan army before falling out with them. He has even claimed that he had trained the ten terrorists who undertook the 26/11 attack. Going by the manner in which that attack was carried out, it clearly shows the skills the man possessed.

The IB says that the other problem was that in the past couple of months, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba too was getting closer to Kashmiri. The Lashkar did find itself on the back foot in India for sometime now and hence it used the expertise of Kashmiri to regain control in India. India can sure breathe a sigh of relief with the news of Kashmiri. There is going to be a natural disintegration of terror forces in most parts of India especially in Kerala since their leader is dead. Moreover Kashmiri was in the know of various plans for India, which only he could have executed with deadly precision, the IB also adds.

While there may be many other leaders the youth may look to for inspiration, the fact of the matter remains that Kashmiri was the best at the job where the operations and execution aspect of terrorism was concerned.

The criminal MLAs in God’s own country

Kerala Assembly

The new Kerala assembly has 67 MLAs with a criminal record which means the percentage of the MLAs with pending criminal cases is 48 per cent.

Out of these 67 MLAs, there are 12 with very serious charges pending against them which range from attempt to murder, culpable homicide among others.

All the major parties have MLAs with pending criminal cases against them. CPI (M) has 21 (47%) MLAs out 45 MLAs analyzed, INC has 23 out of 38 analyzed (61%), ML has 8 (40%) out of 20 MLAs analyzed and CPI has 5 (39%) out of 13 MLAs analyzed with pending criminal cases.

UDF and LDF each have 40 and 27 MLAs with pending criminal cases out of the 72 and 68 analyzed respectively.

A total of 35 MLAs (i.e. 25% of the total MLAs analyzed) are crorepatis. UDF has 30 (42%) crorepati MLAs while LDF has 5 (7%) crorepati MLAs. Thomas Chandy is the richest MLA in Kerala with assets to the tune of Rs 45 crore.

Manjalamakuzhi Ali of the Muslim League comes in second in this list with Rs 14 crore. Muraleedharan of the Congress, Shibu Baby John of the RSPB come in second and third on this list with Rs 10 and Rs 8 crore worth of assets. The lowest on this list of richest candidates is Abdul Khader of the CPI(M) with assets worth Rs 2 lakh.

The candidate with the most number of criminal charges in this list is C Divakaran of the CPI. Against his name are the following cases: 2 charges related to Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means (IPC Section-324) 2 charges related to Attempt to murder (IPC Section-307) 3 charges related to Punishment (IPC Section-143) 3 charges related to rioting (IPC Section-147) 3 charges related to Danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation (IPC Section-283) 2 charges related to Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant (IPC Section-188) 2 charges related to Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object (IPC Section-149) 1 charges related to Rioting, armed with deadly weapon (IPC Section-148) 1 charges related to Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty (IPC Section-353) 1 charges related to Mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees (IPC Section-427).

Second on this list is Anwar Sadath of the Congress: 2 charges related to Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means (IPC Section-324) 1 charges related to Obscene acts and songs (IPC Section-294) 15 charges related to Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object (IPC Section-149) 14 charges related to Punishment (IPC Section-143) 14 charges related to rioting (IPC Section-147) 8 charges related to Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant (IPC Section-188) 6 charges related to Rioting, armed with deadly weapon (IPC Section-148) 5 charges related to Danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation (IPC Section-283) 3 charges related to wrongful restraint (IPC Section-341) 3 charges related to voluntarily causing hurt (IPC Section-323) 3 charges related to Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty (IPC Section-332) 2 charges related to house-trespass (IPC Section-448) 2 charges related to Mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees (IPC Section-427) 1 charges related to cheating by personation (IPC Section-419) 1 charges related to Negligent conduct with respect to pulling down or repairing buildings (IPC Section-288) 1 charges related to Making atmosphere noxious to health (IPC Section-278) 1 charges related to criminal trespass (IPC Section-447).

Out of the 72 MLAs of the UDF which have been analysed 40 have pending criminal cases against them. Out of this 6 have serious charges pending against them and the percentage is 56 per cent. The statistics of the LDF show that 27 out of the 68 candidates analysed have criminal cases pending against them. The number of candidates with serious charges is at 6 and the over all percentage is 40 per cent.

Kerala will fight with 153 criminal candidates

153 candidates with a criminal back ground and 53 crorepati candidates will battle the elections from the state of Kerala this year for the assembly elections. According to a report prepared by the National Election Watch, a total of 53 candidates, i.e. 15%, (out of 355 analyzed) are crorepatis. Percentage of crorepati candid to ates in INC, ML, BJP, CPI(M),CPI and KC(M) is 13%, 57%, 6%, 8%,4% and 46% respectively
In addition to this the report also goes on to state that 153 candidates i.e. 43% (out of 355 analyzed) with self declared pending criminal charges contesting in the Kerala Assembly Elections. 30 candidates out of these 153 analyzed, have declared serious IPC charges attempt to murder, extortion, causing hurts by dangerous weapons etc against them.
All major parties have given tickets to candidates with pending criminal cases. KC (M) – 62%, INC – 54%, CPI(M) –45%, CPI and ML – 43% each.

Top five with criminal charges-

Liju of the Indian National Congress from the Amabalapuzha constituency tops the list with a total of nine pending cases against him.

S Subhash Chandra of the CPI(M) from the Chitoor constituency has 4 pending cases

M Divakaran an independent candidate from the Dharmadam constituency has 2 cases pending against him, but has nine very serious counts under the Indian Penal code.

E S Purushotham of the BJP from the Paravur constituency has 1 case pending against him

Prekumar of the BJP from the Vallikunnu constituency also has one case pending against him

The Richest-
Udaya Bhaskar of the BJP tops this list with assets worth Rs 15 crore
Mani C Kappan of the NCP shares the top slot with Rs 15 crore
Manjala M K of the Muslim League is worth Rs 14 crore
K Muralidheeran of the Indian National Congress is worth Rs 10 crore
Shev T Kuruvilla of the KC (M) is valued at Rs 8 crore

The Least-
V A Krishnakumara of the BJP has the lowest assets valued at Rs 1000
M Rijil of the INC is worth Rs 2509
R S Pattazhi of the BJP is worth Rs 12500

The Case of Puducherry
At Puducherry 24 candidates (i.e. 13% of 183 candidates analyzed by the Puducherry Election Watch) have self declared pending criminal charges. 5 candidates out of these 24 with pending criminal cases have declared serious IPC charges like kidnapping and extortion charges against them.
All major parties have given tickets to candidates with pending criminal cases. AIADMK has 4 out of 10 (40 %) , DMK has 2 out of 10 (20 %), All India N.R. Congress has 7 out of 18 (39 %), INC has 2 out of 17 (12 %), DMDK has 1 out of 1 (100 %), CPI (ML)(L) has 1 out of 3 (33 %), BJP has 1 out of 20 (5 %) candidates with pending criminal cases.
A total of 48 candidates, i.e. 26%, (out of 183 analyzed) are crorepatis.

Puducherry has the laziest MLAs

Puducherry appears to have the laziest MLAs. A report shows that in comparison to the other states that go to polls, the MLAs from Puducherry had the lowest number of sittings in the past 5 years.
A report by the Association for Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch states that the Kerala Legislative Assembly sat for the largest number of days. The Puducherry legislative assembly sat for 123 days while Kerala was the highest at 240 days in the past five years. In these five years, the largest number of bills were passed by the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly (225) while Puducherry remained the lowest again at 42 bills.
The report further goes on to state that the best performance in terms of number of sittings is that of Kerala which has met for 240 days in the last five years. This amounts to an average of only 48 days per year. Kerala is followed by West Bengal which sat for 219 days in five years (average of 44 days a year) and Tamil Nadu (214 days in five years with an average of 43 days a year).
This compares very poorly with Lok Sabha which in itself sits for small number of days. The current Lok Sabha in last 1.5 years has sat for 135 days which averages to about 90 days in a year. All states have sat way below the number of days Lok Sabha has sat(most has set for less than 50% of the days)
The longest session held was of 42 days of the West Bengal Assembly in 2010. It also sat for 39 days in 2008 and 38 days in 2007. Right behind is Tamil Nadu which sat for 35 days for its 5th session. The shortest sessions were the Budget sessions of Puducherry which on 3 occasions lasted for only a day.
Puducherry has held a total of 11 assembly sessions of which there have been 123 sittings. The bills passed in these sessions is 42 and the sittings average at 25 per year. In the case of Kerala, there have been 17 sessions held of which there have been 240 sittings averaging at 48 per year. The number of bills passed is 135. The Tamil Nadu statistics show that there have been 14 assembly sessions of which there have been 214 sittings. The number of bills passed is 225 and the average number of sittings per year is 43. In the case of Assam, there have been 125 bills passed two of which have been withdrawn. The number of sittings were 131 and 17 sessions have been held. The average number of sittings per year is 26. In the case of West Bengal, there have been 8 sessions and 219 sittings at an average of 44 per year. The bills passed are 149.
The Lok Sabha in the past 1.5 years have had 6 sessions of which there have been 125 sittings averaging at 90 per year. The Lok Sabha has passed 74 bills in the past 1.5 years.