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CPI(M), Congress in Kerala lock horns over fake certificate issue

Vidya was produced before a court in Palakkad and remanded to police custody for two days

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, June 22 (PTI): The ruling CPI(M) in Kerala and the opposition Congress are engaged in a war of words over the fake certificate issue in the state with the latter on Thursday accusing the left front of protecting those involved in illegal activities.

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The CPI(M) on the other hand refuted the allegations against it on the issue and also came to the aid of its student wing SFI, whose two former members are facing charges of using fake certificates.

While the expelled SFI leader Nikhil Thomas is accused of submitting a fake certificate for admission to the M.Com course in a college in Kayamkulam area of Alappuzha district of the state, former SFI member Vidya K Maniyodi is facing charges of furnishing a fake teaching experience certificate to secure a guest faculty post in a government college.

Vidya, who was allegedly absconding for nearly two weeks, was arrested on Wednesday night from a village in Kozhikode district and Thomas was expelled from SFI’s primary membership on Tuesday.

On Thursday Vidya was produced before a court in Palakkad and remanded to police custody for two days for being interrogated.

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Her lawyer told reporters outside the court that his client’s arrest was a “gimmick” carried out by the police to “satisfy public outrage and the media”.

“Otherwise what was the tearing hurry to arrest her when her anticipatory bail plea was pending in the Kerala High Court? It is not a very serious offence. The punishment for the offences she is accused of is maximum 7 years,” he said.

The lawyer also claimed that no notice under section 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code seeking her personal appearance was given to Vidya or her family.

“Also, she was not hiding. She was staying with a friend awaiting the Kerala HC decision. Even police have not said she was hiding or that she was given a notice under section 41A CrPC. It is the media which said she was hiding,” he contended.

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While being taken to the court, Vidya told reporters, “You celebrated it more than needed. I have decided to move forward legally to the extent possible. I know and so do you that the case is fabricated.”

Meanwhile, the Congress expressed dissatisfaction by the delay in police action against the accused in both incidents of fake certificates.

Leader of opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan, Congress MP K Muraleedharan and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala all today alleged that the ruling Left government and the police were protecting the accused and giving them time to destroy evidence.

“That is why it took 15 days to arrest Vidya. She had 15 days to destroy evidence against her. If the police wanted to, it could have caught her within hours.

“Now Thomas is also in hiding. He will be caught after giving him sufficient time to destroy evidence,” Chennithala alleged while speaking to reporters at Kasaragod.

Chennithala further contended that use of fake certificates, trying to pass exams without studying, going into hiding to destroy evidence, all these incidents are “leading the higher education in Kerala to anarchy”.

Taking a dig at the police, Satheesan said its officers were all these days trying to ensure that they do not land up before Vidya and now they are trying to not appear before Thomas.

Muraleedharan too said that police should find out what she was doing for the last 15 days.

Denying the Congress’ charges, state public works department minister P A Mohamed Riyas claimed that SFI was the protector of a secular Kerala and the future of the state.

He said the allegations against the left wing student organisation were intended to defame it.

Riyas also criticised KPCC chief K Sudhakaran for his recent remarks against CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan by terming the comments as ‘undignified.’

Earlier in the day, senior CPI(M) leader A K Balan contended that the opposition was more concerned over such minor issues instead of criticising the Prime Minister for going abroad and doing yoga there “when a state in the country is burning”.

Balan was referring to the violence in the state of Manipur.

He also defended the Students Federation of India (SFI), saying it cannot be blamed for what Vidya and Thomas did.

He said that SFI expelled Thomas on getting to know what he had done and there was nothing more it could have done.

Balan, speaking to reporters at Thiruvananthapuram, also said that SFI has a strong presence — of around 72 per cent — among the students irrespective of their religion or political background and that is why it was being attacked.

He said just like the making of fake currency, there are people behind the fake certificates too and the police and the state government will root them out and take appropriate action against them.

“Since the police are looking into the matter, let them ascertain why Vidya did what she did,” he said, adding that her arrest indicates the government’s stand on the issue.

Balan also came to the defence of Govindan, who is facing flak from the Congress for his recent remarks against Sudhakaran in connection with a POCSO case in which controversial self-styled antiques dealer Monson Mavunkal was sentenced to life term in jail.

Balan said that Govindan only commented about a news report and he was well within his rights to do so.

“However, the remarks against him subsequently were undignified,” he said.

He also said that while Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Sudhakaran was a friend, he cannot save the Congress in this lifetime.

He said there was an agenda to isolate the Kerala CM, the CPI(M) state secretary, remove the Left government from power and destroy the SFI which was responsible for strengthening the CPI(M) party base.

Balan further said that SFI was responsible for the downfall of the Kerala Students’ Union (KSU) and relegating it to a corner and hence, the attacks on the left wing students’ organisation.

The KSU, the student organisation of the Congress, has been claiming that Thomas failed in the B Com degree course at MSM college, but during M Com admission, he provided a certificate from Kalinga University in Chhattisgarh.

Vidya was booked by the police under sections 465 (forgery), 471 (using forged documents as genuine), and 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating) of the Indian Penal Code on the complaint of government colleges in Ernakulam and Palakkad.

According to the complaints, the woman claimed in the “fake certificate” that she was a guest lecturer at Maharajas College in 2018-19.

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