Newsmaker | Transport business to casinos, in driver’s seat and out of it: Karnataka Cong MLA now under ACB lens

On Tuesday, photos from the Karnataka Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Raid on MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan Many came, and they were shocked by the luxury of his three-storey home in the Bengaluru cantonal district – complete with tall columns, arches and chandeliers.

Among the wealthiest MLAs in Karnataka – according to an affidavit before the 2018 assembly elections, Zamir declared assets worth about Rs 40.34 crore – the legislator’s family runs four times National Travels, a carrier that operates a fleet of interstate services.

On Tuesday, ACB officials carried out raids of Zameer’s home near Cantonment railway station, his apartment in Silver Oak Apartments, a guest house in Sadashivanagar, and the National Travels office in the city’s Kalasipalya district. Anti-Corruption Bureau officials said on Tuesday that the raids were carried out in a case of disproportionate assets that were registered based on the report of the Enforcement Directorate that raided Al-Zumar’s home last August.

ACB officials said Tuesday that the raids were carried out in a disproportionate asset case. (Express Photo)

But Zumar supporters in the party and his family questioned the timing of the raids and claimed that the BJP government was trying to divert attention from high-profile arrests – a day before the raids on the Zumur, the senior officer at IPS, Amrit Paul, had been. He was caught in a police inspector recruitment scam while IAS Officer J Manjunath was arrested in a corruption case. The arrests of senior government officials have left a red face for the BJP-led Basavaraj Bomai government.

Zamir began his career in JD(S) and was among those who left the party with Siddharami to join Congress. His first election outing was in 2005, when he competed, for the JD(S) ticket, for the Chamrajpet seat which is a traditional congressional stronghold. But with Congress leader SM Krishna vacating the seat after he was appointed governor, the AKP sensed its opportunity and sent Zamir, who defeated Congress RV Devaraj – a victory that made him the pre-eminent Muslim leader in Karnataka.

Subsequently, Zamir, a close aide to JD(S) leader, HD Kumaraswamy, was appointed as Minister of Hajj and Wakf Board of Directors during the JD(S) and BJP coalition government. In 2007, with the government teetering on the brink of collapse as Coomaraswamy refused to step down and the state’s three main parties were securing their legal aid agreements, Zamir took lawmakers to a resort in Goa – and drove the bus, too. Despite the collapse of the JD(S)-BJP government, Zamir remained on the side of Coomaraswamy.

However, their relationship soured as Zamir and another Five Dinar(S) MLA formally joined Congress ahead of the 2018 state elections. In the faction-riven party where loyalties are divided between the Siddharmayah and DK Shivakumar factions, Zamir identified himself with the former. He even announced that he would vacate his seat in Chamarajpet if Siddharramayah wanted to compete from the constituency in the upcoming elections.

Zamir, a popular leader in the minority-dominated district of Chamargpit, has orchestrated relief measures during the pandemic.

Apart from the transportation business, the Zamir family is known to operate casinos in Sri Lanka. Zamir is said to have hosted parties at his casinos that saw celebrities from Karnataka and elsewhere. Bollywood stars Sanjay Dutt, Shakti Kapoor and Jackie Shroff attended Zamir’s 50th birthday celebrations in Bengaluru.

Zamir was usually outspoken in his support of Tipu Sultan and opposed the BJP whenever it issued statements against the ruler of Mysore in the 18th century. He also demanded that the House of Hajj be renamed after Tipu.

As per the affidavit he gave before the 2018 assembly elections, Zamir has declared assets worth around Rs 40.34 crore. (Express Photo)

Zamir has periodically found his way into controversies and often lately from memes and trolls on social media. In a recent public event, Zamir fed a morsel of food to a Dalit priest, telling him to spit it out before eating it himself – a video that went viral.

Zamir does not shy away from controversies. His name also appeared in the 2018 multi-crore IMA ponzi scam, but was later given a clean slate.

Recently, in the midst of the hijab controversy, he put himself in place when he argued that it is necessary for Muslim women to wear the hijab to prevent themselves from being raped. He later apologized for his remarks.

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