The Congress-led opposition had alleged that the self-styled antique dealer had tried to dupe people regarding rituals at the Sabarimala temple using the fabricated manuscript.

File photo of Monson Mavunkal being escorted by the policeFile photo: PTI
news Controversy Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - 09:41

The Crime Branch has said that eight out of the ten artefacts seized from self-styled antique dealer Monson Mavunkal were "not antiques". The ten artefacts were sent to the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) for inspection and it included the controversial 'chembola' (a copper plate manuscript) which had an alleged connection to rituals at Sabarimala.

Only two items have been proven to be over 100-years old, a senior crime branch official said. "We had sent ten items which we felt were antiques among his collection and now the ASI result says that only two among them are antiques," the official said. According to the official, antiques are items which must be at least 100-years old.

The matter assumes significance as the Congress-led opposition had alleged that the self-styled antiques dealer who was arrested had tried to dupe people regarding the rituals at the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple using the fabricated manuscript. The opposition also alleged that the ruling government also had a role in it.

When asked whether the Chembola was fake or not, the officer said that the ASI reports only suggests that the item was not antique, which means not over a hundred years old. "That doesn't mean that it was fake," the officer said.

The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the apex temple body in the state, had earlier said that it would examine whether any document submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) related to the Sabarimala case had the reference of a fabricated manuscript, possessed by Mavunkal.

The 'Chembola' became a topic of political controversy after Mavunkal's arrest in September last year. Mavunkal was arrested for allegedly cheating a group of people by defrauding them to the tune of Rs 6 crore. A lot of artefacts were seized during raids carried out at his premises. However, police had said that most of the materials in his custody were either fake or counterfeit.

The Pandalam royal family, the erstwhile custodians of the hill shrine, demanded an inquiry into the allegations whether the fake document was used by the Kerala government as evidence in the apex court to support its arguments favouring the entry of young women into the Sabarimala temple.

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