Following the arrest of Alappuzha native Monson Mavunkal, who posed as a top 'antique dealer', pictures of top police officials, including Loknath Behera, visiting him had gone viral on social media.

Monson Mavunkal with former state police chief Loknath Behera and Manoj Abraham IPSFACEBOOK / NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMANITARIAN FEDERATION
news Controversy Tuesday, October 05, 2021 - 20:21

Amid the controversies over self-proclaimed 'antique dealer' Monson Mavunkal's alleged high level connections with top police personnels in the state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday defended the police stating that intelligence report was sought on Monson in 2019 itself by the former police chief Loknath Behera. Pinarayi Vijayan also added that if any police officials are found to have done anything illegal, the state government won't resist taking action.

Following the arrest of Alappuzha native Monson Mavunkal, who posed as a top 'antique dealer', pictures of top police officials, including Loknath Behera, visiting him had gone viral on social media. The Congress-led opposition alleged that Monson Mavunkal had tried to dupe people regarding the rituals at the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple using a fabricated 'chembola' (a copper manuscript) and the Marxist party government allegedly had a role in it. Raising the controversial issue during the zero-hour seeking notice for an adjournment motion, they also accused former DGP Loknath Behera, a close confidant of Vijayan, for having connections with Mavunkal. The photos of the retired police chief, sitting on the "throne of Tipu Sultan" along with senior IPS officer and ADGP Manoj Abraham holding an "antique" sword at the accused's house, were widely circulated on social media platforms, putting the Vijayan government in a fix. They also pointed fingers at Behera for allegedly granting police protection to the fake antique dealer, despite an intelligence report against him.

Defending Behera, the CM on Tuesday said in the Assembly that it was following a letter by the former police chief Behera in 2019 that state Intelligence submitted a report on Monson. Based on the reply from Intelligence, Behera asked the Enforcement Directorate to probe the matter. However, it was not initiated,the CM said.

"It was Behera who asked to initiate an inquiry into this. It is true that Behera visited his (Monson's) place prior to this, but after visiting, he asked Intelligence to inquire. As per the Intelligence report, he asked that ED should conduct a detailed probe. These are the things that happened. If more things have happened, we will find out in the present probe. No one in Kerala wants this fraudster to escape. No influence of his has been fruitful in this case. Police have taken strong action, and will continue to do so. Kerala society needn't be concerned about this," Pinarayi Vijayan said.

Read: Who is Monson Mavunkal? The ‘antique’ dealer whose arrest has hooked Kerala

"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 added.

As part of the ongoing Crime Branch investigation, a letter has been given to 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. A special investigation team had been formed under the Crime Branch IG for a comprehensive probe, Vijayan added.

Read: Judas’s coins to Krishna’s pot: List of 'antiques' that con artist Monson claimed to have

However, Congress legislator PT Thomas, who moved a notice for the motion, urged the government to discuss the matter in the Assembly after suspending other businesses.

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, which was probing 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.

(With PTI inputs)

Read: â€˜Sheer ignorance about antiques’: How people were duped by Monson Mavunkal