New twist to NRKs money controversy

DUBAI - The controversy over certain people collecting funds from NRIs in the UAE on behalf of an expatriate Indian association, the All India Airport Users' Forum (AIAUF), has taken a murky twist with different members of the organisation involving in mud-slinging.

By Debasree S.

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Published: Mon 28 Jun 2004, 9:37 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:06 PM

Remila Sughdev, State Chairperson of the All India Airport Users' forum (AIAUF) and a member of the follow-up committee for Non-resident Keralite Affairs (NORKA) earlier alleged that there were several non-resident Keralites in Sharjah who were illegally using the name of the AIAUF for an agitation against the national airlines, Air India and Indian Airlines.

Ms Sughdev, who was in Dubai to investigate the matter, told Khaleej Times that in the recent past a group of people arrived from Sharjah with the claim of spear-heading the rights and the interests of the non-resident Keralites.

She claimed that the NORKA only recognised the AIAUF as a non-resident organisation registered with the state and which has been operational since the last five years. The convener of the organisation is T. Rajan and there is a 35-member committee that works to protect the rights of the airport users. "But we are greatly distressed to know that there are two individuals who are impersonating in the name of AIAUF and this should be stopped immediately."

Ms. Sughdev also alleged that the two impersonators based in Sharjah are actually trying to make money through donations from non-resident Indians based in the UAE but in the process they were only duping them. "We have made a petition to the NORKA Minister, M.M. Hassan and we hope that the two impersonators will be warned."

The local representatives of the AIAUF has turned the tables by claiming that Ms. Sughdev is the actual culprit who has been collecting donations in the name of the organisation.

M.K. Madhavan, President, AIAUF and KM Basheer, General Secretary, in a joint statement, said that the organisation has never resorted to collection of donations for their activities.

"Collecting money for the agitation and other events is against the declared policy of the AIAUF. Whenever we went to India to organise any agitation, we spent our own money. Once we even paid for a ticket for Ms. Sughdev," Mr Basheer countered.

"We have removed Ms. Sughdev from our organisation when we found incriminating evidence that she had been collecting money in the name of the organisation. If she proceeds further in this matter we will resort to legal actions," Mr Basheer added.

"Though she was the Kerala Chairperson of our organisation, we removed her from that post once she shifted to the UAE. During the executive meeting held on October 3, 2003, she was given the post of UAE co-ordinator. In this capacity she had participated in the Press conference at Ernakulam Press Club on October 13 and in the subsequent airport strike at Nedumbassery two days after that," Mr Basheer explained.

"However, later, she became a member of the Follow Up Committee for Non Resident Keralite Affairs (NORKA), using the name of AIAUF. Since then, she started intimidating many people and collected money in the name of NORKA and AIAUF," Mr Basheer alleged.

Mr Basheer also ridiculed her fake claim of having a registered organisation in the name of All India Airport Users' Forum, which is recognised by Airport Authority of India and the federal Civil Aviation Ministry.

Mr Madhavan pointed out that Ms. Sughdev was not there in the initial committee of AIAUF. "The initial committee had Puthur Rahman as the president, me as the working president and Basheer as the general convener. We co-opted her later as the Kerala chairperson as she was then based in Calicut. When she found that she was attracting media publicity through the activities of AIAUF, she started exploiting it. It is highly ridiculous and childish for her to claim that she is the real AIAUF and others like us are just temporary adjustments," he alleged.

On Ms. Sughdev's allegation about embarrassing the local immigration and customs authorities and officials of the national carriers in Karipur airport on the users' fee agitation, Mr Madhavan believed that it could not have embarrassed her since she was also part of the agitation.

"When leaders of the AIAUF went to Karipur from Sharjah, it was she, as the Kerala chairperson of the organisation, who arranged local support for the dharna," he said. He recalled that it was due to the relentless fight by the AIAUF and other expatriate organisations, including a protracted legal wrangle; the users' fee at Calicut airport was withdrawn by the authorities.

"When we spent a lot of money from our pocket on a just cause like this and it was disgusting of her to come out with such mean statements to belittle our efforts," said Mr Madhavan. He said that the forum, which is still continuing its fight against the users' fee at Cochin airport, will organise an airport march at Calicut airport on June 30 demanding that the budget airline be implemented within four to five months.

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