Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage Minister Rauff Hakeem, yesterday alleged that an ‘extortionist’ was slandering his image through a certain media.
Addressing reporters yesterday, Minister Hakeem alleged that a certain person named Mahroof had been slinging mud and character assassinating him for money instigated by former Eastern Province Chief Minister and presidential candidate M.L.A.M. Hizbullah.
“I know that Hizbullah and another Pohottuwa leader are behind this malicious act against me. I will expose the Pohottuwa man at the right time,” he added.
Minister Hakeem categorically said that he had no connection whatsoever with any extremist Muslim terrorist or organisation and that he had met a relative of an Easter Sunday attack suspect, only when he visited an expectant mother known to him at the Hospital.
“Anyone can understand that a political party leader and a cabinet minister like me is approached by different people every time I attend any public institution or function. This man also came to meet me on such occasion,” he emphasised.
Minister Hakeem played an audio clip before the news briefing allegedly containing the hand-phone dialogue between Risan Mahroof and Mr. Hakeem’s aide, former PC member of the Eastern Province Shibly Farook.
The dialogue is as follows:
He will contact me after watching the news briefing. It went very well. That was how we must attack. Let’s continue this in future too.
Shibly Farook: Who?
Mahroof: Hizbullah. He called once again, to tell you to carry it out better. Yesterday it was excellent.(the false allegations against Minister Hakeem) He will also give it a boost. I will expose all those who are behind this conspiracy. Miflal took all the money given by Hizbullah to complete this job. I got to know it from Hizbullah’s son. I have taken out all the information from their office that reveals how they carried out this mudslinging campaign because I did not receive anything. I have all these information related to mudslinging campaign and I will expose all of them. I am going to tell the country how Minister Hakeem was targeted for mudslinging and for what purpose and by whom. I will expose all of them.
Mahroof: This man has come while we waited for him
Rauff Hakeem: Who is the man?
Mahroof: Hizbullah sir. If this man says 300, he says 1,000. If this man says 2,000 he says 4,000. It was made ok for him.
Minister Hakeem: Tell me, they will get double of what they demand?
Mahroof: Yes, it is a good deal.
Minister Hakeem: Do they get all this money from Hizbullah?
Mahroof: Yes, they work for Hizbullah.
Mahroof: We can’t say don’t vote for either Sajith or Gotabaya. Vote for Hizbullah.
Minister Hakeem: Is that so. Do you have any profit by doing this?.
Mahroof: Not profits but the positive outcome from this, sir. You had called me that day. He also asks me and tells me joining Gota is not the matter. But if we divert 200,000 votes that would have otherwise gone in favour of Sajith, who gets the advantage? Gota no? They all are innocent votes. However, it is possible that we also could win if a majority of those votes generated through media conferences come to us. You know we have not promoted extremism.
Minister Hakeem: Who is behind Miflal Moulavi?
Mahroof: Hizbullah is behind him.
Minister Hakeem: Hizbullah?.
Mahroof: Whatever said and done, we know well that you haven’t come from an extremist background. My name could get tarnished from these doings. That is why I came to you, sir. I went with them because I also had some needs. That is why I went.
Minister Hakeem alleged that Mahroof first demanded ten million rupees from his aide Shibly Farook to withdraw all false allegations made against him through the TV channel and when refused the amount reduced to Rs. 8 million, 7 million and ultimately Rs. 5 million. He also pleaded that Rs. 2.5 million be paid before the news briefing and the rest after the press briefing.
“Why should I pay even Rs. 5 million when my conscience knows that I have never done politics with extremist ideology nor discriminated against other fellow citizens? I have always stood for ethnic reconciliation, democracy and the concept of good governance.
If the media continues this extremely biased, malicious and highly unethical mud-slinging and character assassination against me, I will take legal action against them. I have also lodged a complaint with the Election Commission,” Minister Hakeem concluded. (Sandun A Jayasekera)