SLMC Rift Deepens
by Ifham Nizam
- High Command removes Party Chairman
- Basheer Segu Dawood launches scathing attack
- Frequent clashes in the party
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) will continue to have more problems of a serious nature unless Party Leader Rauff Hakeem puts an end to acts that favour some who were keen on building their financial strengths, neglecting party politics.
SLMC officials told The Sunday Leader that there are frequent clashes within the party due to the conflict of interest, good and evil.
According to insiders after the demise of Leader Ashraff, the party was captured by a few under the leadership of the present leader.
“The properties were captured by a few under the leadership of Nazeer Hafeez through the Trust and the Company. Eventually only the party came under the wings of Hakeem. Likewise the party’s properties came under Hafeez.”
They pointed out that Hakeem’s initial efforts taken to capture the party as well as its wealth did not materialise. In the same manner, initial efforts taken by Hafeez to capture the party along with its wealth did not materialise as well. People who are aware of the history will know this. People who are ignorant to this could ascertain these factors by consulting others.
In the year 2012, Hakeem who captured the party and Hafeez who captured the party’s wealth have joined hands. This has paved the way for Hafeez who intended to own the party with its wealth in order to obtain political positions and achieve what he wanted. As for Hakeem who envisaged getting the Party and its wealth together, already has the party and now got his share of wealth as well.
Ashraff purchased the 15.30 perches of empty land next to ‘Dharusalam’ during the middle part of 1999 from Carson Cumberbatch & Company for a price of rupees 10 million 12 lakh and 50 thousand. The deed of that property was in favour of five high ranking officials – the leader, chairman, secretary, national organiser and treasurer - as property of the party and specifically mentioning that when any of them lost their position the one succeeding him will automatically be replaced in place of him. (The leader has used his legal brain and specifically stated that not any individuals or companies but those holding responsible party ranks only will become eligible and he has made it very clear and lawful so that nobody can deceive)
During this period the other properties were written in favour of the Trust Fund. However, these assets were made properties of the party.
For the purchase of this land the great leader had issued a draft to the Carson Cumberbatch company dated 21.07.1999 drawn on the current account of the party maintained at the Hultsorf Branch of the Hatton National Bank Limited.
The leader’s plan was to build a reception hall in that land which could be given on rent for company meetings, weddings and other get-together functions. In that way he wanted to supplement the income from the trust fund.
Ashraff’s tragic death
According to party sources, the untimely tragic death of leader Ashraff occurred when he was expecting a copy of the Deed from the Notary Public who wrote it.
The date of attestation of the Notary Public appears in the Deed as 29.07.2000. This was two months prior to the death of the leader. But in the Lands Department it has been registered on 01.03.2001. Please comprehend the fact that this is six months after the demise of the leader.
After the demise of the leader the Deed which had been originally written in the name of the party was unscrupulously altered when Nazeer Ahamed was director of the United Builders Private Limited and written in the name of that company.
The Deed which was not registered until the demise of the leader was altered and written on a different date.
The question will naturally arise as to why they did not tear into pieces and throw away the former Deed and get a new one prepared by the said Attorney-at-Law and written in the name of the company. The former owners of that land was a reputed public company, Carson and Cumberbatch. If a new Deed is to be prepared it has to be signed by the Director of the Company and they will not sign it for the second time. Because it is a highly reputed and credible company, they will not like the credibility of the company to be affected. Therefore, the director will not agree to sign it.
Apart from that they cannot be told about this fraud. Those in the game knew that it was an impossible task. On a later occasion when one of the directors of that company came to know that the Deed has been written in a different manner unlike how they sold it, he contacted party leader Rauff Hakeem and complained that “ we sold the land to the Muslim Congress when Ashraff was alive and how is it that the Deed has now been written in the name of a company ? This will create problems to the company and the company auditors, he had complained.
Officials stressed that the amount paid for the purchase of the land has been deleted and a reduced amount has been shown as the price. The land was purchased for Rs.11250000. But in the altered Deed it has been shown as Rs.4250000.
“Since it has been mentioned in the Carson Cumberbatch company’s accounts report that the land had been sold for Rs.11250000, the fraudulent alteration will cause problems to the company . Also it will cause problems to their Audit Company. Therefore they will not agree to a new and different Deed being written. (Leader Ashraff had given the payment on stamp duty for the entire amount mentioned formerly. Please note that the amount for purchase has been reduced and the payment on stamp duty has also been plundered),” a party member said.
It was because of these complex problems that they had to delete with white-out liquid and make changes in the same Deed.
For the purchase of the land, the Muslim Congress had through its HNB account bank draft paid the money. The engineer who was the then Director of the United Builders Private Limited and the Notary Public both of whom were involved in this fraud and conspiracy were not so foolish as not to know that legally the land belonged to the party and if it was transferred to any other company or any individual the Carson Company will be trapped in the legal complication and , therefore, the Director of the C arson company will never agree to it.( Copy of the Bank Draft is in the annexure).
In the annual Public Audit Report of the Carson and Cumberbatch company for the year 1999, it has been mentioned that this land was sold for Rs.11250000. (Extract of page 41 of the book where this detail has been mentioned is found in Annexure II )
In the original Deed that was executed before the demise of the leader, two Directors of the Carson Company had signed as witnesses. These two names have been obliterated using white-out liquid and names of two other witnesses have been included. It was done as a precautionary measure because if the true witnesses , the Directors of the Carson Company, were to remain as witnesses in the Deed , they will speak out the truth in case of legal proceedings on a later date to which they may be summoned. If that happened they will be caught red-handed and, as such, they included the names of two witnesses who were loyal to them. The first new witness is Mohamed Laaseen Mohamed Anjabeen Kariyappar and the second new witness is Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Navas. The address mentioned for the two of them is 7-1/1, Meerania Street, Colombo 12. It is apparent from the names and the address that they were serving in the same legal organisation.
As mentioned already, a complaint was made to the Criminal Investigations Department by the Secretary General of the party after a Director of the Carson Cumberbatch & Company informed the present leader about this.
Later ‘ for reasons unknown’, a civil case was filed by the party for retrieving the plot of land . (Case No.7350/spl). This was a unsteady approach. Consequently, the file was closed and the thieves were safeguarded. It should be noted that a civil case is an incessant and lethargic legal process .
During the final part of 2011, Nazeer Hafeez was, all of a sudden, absorbed into the party. What was the mystery behind that? He was one who will not benefit the party in any manner and he cannot even add one single vote to the party in the Batticaloa district . What was the conspiracy and what was benefit in making him to win the 2012 Provincial Council elections for the Eastern province and then elevated to the position of Chief Minister ? What was the benefit that the party derived? Or else what were the benefits derived by any other private individual ? As mentioned earlier this was the result of the discussions on bargaining and mutual benefit that took place between some in the party and Hafeez.
Finding an excuse that the verdict of the civil case, mentioned at No.(7) above , will take a very long time , both sides mutually agreed to come to a peaceful settlement on the matter. Under that settlement, the empty plot of land was written to the party in the same manner as was originally done by leader Ashraff when he was alive. The Deed No. 4155. The date on which it was written was 17.04.2012. But surprisingly the value of the plot of land that was purchased for Rs. 11250000 in 1999 was struck off and amended to R.4250000 in the new Deed written after reconciliation and settlement after 13 years.
Giving consent to re-write the Deed to the party after 13 years in the same manner as was written when leader Ashraff was alive but fraudulently and with changes in itself is sufficient evidence to prove that redress and relief has been offered to robbery land committed. On both occasions, when the land deed was fraudulently and cunningly altered and written to the company and when the land was again written to the party after settlement and reconciliation , Nazeer Hafeez was the director of Unity Builders Private Limited.
The leader even when he wrote all properties, including his private properties, to the Trust Fund, wrote the empty land to the party.
Officials added: “Please take into consideration that even if the leader himself had changed the Deed, he would not have written it to the company but of the Trust Fund.”
Former Chairman of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Basheer Segu Dawood says that the SLMC was founded by late leader Ashraff, based and depended on peoples power.
“We who represent this segment should always be mindful that we represent the community across the board. I hail from a village background, mingle with the grassroots and fully understand their sincerity and unconditional support and commitment of such people. I understand this better than the elite from the upper strata holding high offices in the SLMC.”
“I am of the view that the Party is not catering to the needs of the community and meeting its aspirations. This is causing right thinking party cadres to be candid in expressing their views which is misconstrued by the party hierarchy as revolutionary and conspiracy attempts. Disappointment and disagreements begins there. When members’ views are paid scant attention, the members begin to air their views public and it ends up as a conflict. To avert such situations, there has to be intra party democracy exercised in its true sense. Party Leadership and Hierarchy should believe in collective decisions and refrain from dictatorial practices. Contributions to the collective decisions should be independent and autonomous and not under duress or any external pressure. In fact, the whole constitution of the SLMC, evolves around the “ Mashoora” concept which means Consensus. Total deviation from this is what is causing the catastrophe. SLMC was founded by late leader Ashraff, totally based and depended on Peoples power. Some shed their blood and many shed sweat. The power bank of the party was the people. We who represent this segment should always be mindful that we represent the community across the board. I hail from a village background, mingle with the grassroots and fully understand their sincerity and unconditional support and commitment of such people. I understand this better than the elite from the upper strata holding high offices in the SLMC. Today collectively, including me has not done what the people and the community wanted us to do. Had we done so, the SLMC which produced twelve Parliamentarians in the year 2000 would not have been reduced to a humiliating Seven in 2015,” he said. Basheer Segu Dawood noted that the SLMC lost two districts during the elections in 2015, which are Trincomalee and Vanni. This is where the SLMC flag was flying high until the recent past. In effect, out of the four districts SLMC held fort, two have been lost amounting to a 50% drop in support. Masses can solve the internal issues, provided they are not misled to endorsing something they don’t understand.
“In the past, one can observe, ignorance to the International language of the party delegates has been taken to advantage in obtaining endorsements in delegates’ conferences and high command meetings. Morally, ethically and legally it is not correct. Such matters erode the faith and confidence people place in the party and its office bearers. So, given a fare opportunity, the people will provide right and pragmatic solutions. The Party constitution which is in the English language was translated and circulated among the party cadres, during the time of our late leader Ashraff. If that practice was followed and a verbatim translation of the subsequent amendments would have keep the people better informed,” Basheer Segu Dawood said. He emphasised on the need to maintain a natural balance and Intra party democracy to avert rifts in the party. He says a political party should not be run like a private company. The criteria should be set to maintain democracy and consensus in all aspects within the party.
“Undue advantage or amendment towards increasing nominations to the High Command at the cost of causing imbalance in proportion should be eliminated. If not, you will end up having a bunch of “ Yes Men” where one could witness the burial of democracy and the birth of a dictatorial monster in a democratic attire,” he added.
Basheer Segu Dawood also noted that the General Secretary of the party Hasan Ali has the best interest of the party in mind.
“He has the Party in his Heart and not his position as General Secretary. Loyalty and sincerity are the jewels in his crown and he cherishes those more than positions. Our late leader Ashraff was the founder leader who formed the SLMC under conditions that could not be explained briefly. It was the need of the hour when the country was experiencing terrorism at its peak while security and welfare of the Muslim community was under severe threat. His manifestation of party democracy even under appalling conditions was considered exemplary. The present leader came in as a compromising leader where characteristics of both sharply differ. The entry of undesirable elements with ulterior motives, towards achieving positions and enriching themselves through unscrupulous means is the major issue in the party,” he said..
He says a decision has been taken by the party High Command to suspend him from the party position as Chairman.
“Subsequently, I received an official communication to that effect. However, the ideal procedure I reckon suitable should have been, the proposal for my suspension being tabled in my presence, allowed me to present my side of the story, called for a secret ballot preferably, and issued a suspension notice on the results of the ballot. The High Command members were deprived from expressing their free will, owing to the manner the whole episode was conducted. I hope there will be an opportunity awarded to explain my case if need be. Anyway, it is left to be seen,” he added.