Friday, June 21, 2013

The beedi businessman, his foreign cars and associated troubles

Beedi businessman Muhammed Nisham has at least six imported cars. And one or the other of them has been at the centre of every controversy that he has been involved in over the past few months.

The latest is a summons sent to him from customs in Thrissur, asking him to produce relevant documents next week about his Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Road Ranger, Ferrari and Jaguar. The Customs Department wants to verify whether the imports are in order, or if the cars were undervalued.

Nisham is managing director of Tirunelveli-based King Beedi Co. Apart from being a prominent tobacco supplier, he has hotel and jewellery businesses in the Middle East.

His vehicles, which include a Skoda and an Audi, have been at the centre of public attention since April after he allowed his nine-year-old son to drive one of them in a residential complex of Thrissur, leading to a police case. And last week, during a police check, he allegedly locked a woman sub-inspector inside another of his vehicles.

In April, Nisham's wife, Amal Nisha, lovingly shot a video of their son Ishan, 9, at the wheel of their Ferrari, his four-year-old brother by his side. These visuals of the elder boy driving through the residential area went up on YouTube, sparking outrage among viewers. The police were initially hesitant to act but eventually booked Nisham on two charges — under the Juvenile Justice Act for cruelty to a child, and under the Motor Vehicle Act for allowing a person without a licence to drive. Arrested under the latter charge, Nisham was later released on bail.

His next run-in with the police came in Thrissur on Thursday last week, followed by the customs notice from there. He was driving his brand-new Rolls Royce when police stopped him for a routine check. Police say Nisham was under the influence of alcohol, which he admits.

Police allege Nisham tried to manhandle a woman sub-inspector in their team. He allegedly told them that no police station in Kerala is fit for his Rolls-Royce to park at. To prevent him from driving away, the woman sub-inspector got into the car for the keys. Police say Nisham, who was outside, locked the doors with remote control, trapping the sub-inspector inside. More policemen arrived and had a heated argument with Nisham who, they say, "released" the sub-inspector only after that.

He was arrested and produced before a local court, which first remanded him in judicial custody and then granted him bail the following day.

Nisham denies having locked the woman in. "The woman SI told her colleagues to take me into custody, saying that here is the person who allowed his minor son to drive a Ferrari," he says. "I did not lock her inside; she could have come out if she wished. Everything has been recorded on camera. And what I told the police was that the Rolls-Royce was new, and it was not proper to take it to the police station the first day."
Shaju Philip : Thiruvananthapuram, Fri Jun 21 2013, 08:21 hrs

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