Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday warned that strict action will be taken if it was found that any police official was involved with fake antique dealer Monson Mavunkal, who arrested by the Crime Branch wing of Kerala Police on Sunday for allegedly people to the tune of Rs 10 crore. The opposition, United Democratic Front, accused former DGP Loknath Behera, a close confidant of Vijayan, for having connections with Mavunkal.
The CM, however, defended Behera and said it was natural for people to visit a place, where antiques were believed to be kept.
Based on the intelligence report, the then police chief had submitted a letter to the Enforcement Directorate regarding the accused, he said adding that it was natural for the police to pay special attention to the area if a person sought protection for his life and property.
“The allegation that the government had tried to deceive people by fabricating the chembola regarding the rituals at Sabarimala is baseless. Since all such matters are coming under the purview of the inquiry, no further details can be divulged right now,” Vijayan said.
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The opposition also questioned police’s inaction despite a two-year-old intelligence report against Mavunkal.
CM Vijayan, however, said that the government received a complaint against the fake antique collector on September 6. “On 23 September police had registered case and he was arrested on September 25. He is still in police custody,” he said.
A letter has been given to the the Archaeological Survey of India and the Archaeological Department to probe the antiquity of the articles found in the collection of the accused, he said.
Vijayan added that a special investigation team had been formed under the Crime Branch IG for a comprehensive probe.
The opposition staged a walk-out from the assembly after an adjournment motion raised by Congress MLA P Thomas was denied.
A native of Cherthala, Mavunkal who claims to be in possession of rare and historic antiques was arrested last week by the Crime Branch wing of the Kerala police probing into complaints against the dealer of having swindled Rs 10 crore from several people.
The victims claimed that they lost Rs 10 crore in their dealings with Mavunkal, who allegedly earned their trust using his “high profile” contacts, including politicians, top IPS officers and bureaucrats including a retired chief secretary-rank official.