TRIVANDRUM — The brutal murder of a Gulf returnee, who played a pioneering role in promoting tourism in untapped north Kerala, created flutter in the State Assembly yesterday.
The Communist-led opposition termed the murder of A.M. Abdul Kareem, 50, at Vythiri in the high-range Wynad district on Sunday as a big blow to tourism and demanded a discussion on the issue by adjourning the proceedings of the house. Moving the notice for the adjournment motion during the zero hour, Binoy Viswam of the CPI, alleged that Kareem was murdered by hoodlums hired by his business rivals and sought a high-level inquiry to book the culprits.
“The crime cannot be viewed lightly as it would cast a shadow on tourism. Kareem has been engaged in promoting undeveloped Wayanad and other tourist spots in the Malabar region,” the CPI member said.
Speaker Therambil Ramakrishnan rejected the notice after Finance Minister Vakkom Purushothaman, who is holding the charge of the chief minister, said the investigation into the case was progressing in the right direction. “A special team under Thamaraserry circle inspector is investigating the case. The business rivals involved in the conspiracy behind crime and the hirelings who murdered Kareem would be arrested soon,” he added. Kareem was murdered while going from Sulthan Bathery to Calicut late on Saturday night. A gang intercepted his vehicle, brutally assaulted him and the driver. Both were left for dead but the driver regained consciousness and raised an alarm. Kareem died on the way to hospital.
Tourism director B. Suman said Kareem was very passionate about developing Malabar into a major tourism circuit. He made a foray into the sector after a stint at Aramco subsidiary, Parsons, at Yanbu in Saudi Arabia, by setting up Highway apartments, the first of its kind, in Calicut city, in 1985. His next project was the Hi Bon Plaza. Kareem then bought a 500-acre forest stretch in Vythiri and converted it into the eco-friendly Jungle Park Resorts with tree top houses and ayurvedic facilities. He was forced to lease a part of the property following financial difficulties. This led to a tiff between him and lessees over terms.
Of late, Jungle Park has been among the most sought-after destinations, with software professionals from Bangalore making a beeline to the jungle resort.