A Kerala court on Tuesday, September 28, refused to grant bail to Monson Mavunkal, the controversial 'antique' dealer who was recently arrested for allegedly swindling Rs 10 crore. The court however granted the Crime Branch, probing the case, three-day custody of Monson. Meanwhile, Congress and BJP leaders have come out asking to handover the probe to a different agency. According to the complaint filed by six Kerala natives to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, 54-year-old Alappuzha native Monson Mavunkal had swindled their money, over several years, claiming to be a top 'antique' dealer who has connections with high profile people, including politicians and top police officers in the state.
Monson had claimed to have a rare collection of 'antique' items with him including the two of the 30 silver coins Judas received for betraying Jesus Christ, a piece of clothing Jesus wore, throne of Tipu Sultan, etc, among many others. Following his arrest, images of high-profile people, including former Kerala police state chief Loknath Behera, Assistant Director General of Police Manoj Abraham, actors including Mohanlal and politicians with him, have come out.
As reports about Mavunkal's alleged high profile connections with IPS officers, top bureaucrats and politicians emerged, former UDF convener and Lok Sabha MP Benny Behanan alleged that the antique dealer was part of an international smuggling racket and said he has no faith in the Crime Branch wing of the Kerala police. Talking to reporters, Behanan said in order to bring out the extent of the forgery committed by Mavunkal, a serious probe by a different agency must be initiated.
"The accused used to invite senior police officials, politicians, actors and others to his residence and created an image that he had high-level contacts and engaged in fraudulent activities. A comprehensive probe must be conducted to understand the extent of forgery he has committed," Behanan said.
"Many probe agencies have earlier stated that the money from smuggling was being used for terrorism related activities and a Crime Branch probe cannot bring out all the details," the Congress leader said, indirectly seeking investigation by central agencies such as Customs and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which are authorised to probe matters related to smuggling and terrorism.
His statement seeking a detailed investigation into the case also came a day after Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee Chief K Sudhkaran's photos with Mavunkal surfaced in the media. State BJP chief K Surendran also sought a comprehensive probe by any other agency other than the Crime Branch wing of the Kerala police alleging that "many police officials and bureaucrats were involved" with Monson. Surendran alleged the fraud was committed with the knowledge of senior officials of Kerala police.
"Many senior officials of Kerala police and bureaucrats are involved in the fraud. Kerala police probe is not going to reach anywhere. The probe will end like many other major cases in Kerala. We want a comprehensive probe by any other trustable agency. The Chief Minister should explain the details of the case to the public," Surendran said.
Meanwhile, on allegations by the complainants that they had handed over money to Mosnon in the presence of KPCC chief Sudhakaran, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly VD Satheesan came out in support of his party leader, saying that photographs of the accused in a case with the political leaders should not be used for politically targeting them. He said the people generally click pictures of them with political leaders and that does not mean that the politicians are aware of their background.
Dismissing the allegations against Sudhakaran, Satheesan said political leaders cannot ask the public not to click pictures with them. "We meet hundreds of people everyday. Just because someone clicked a picture with us, doesn't mean that we are friends. We are political leaders and when we go somewhere people come to us to click pictures with them. How can we know their background? We are not movie stars who move around with security guards keeping away the people from crowding around them," Satheesan said.