Monson Mavunkal case: Ex-Kerala Police chief goes on leave

Ever since the arrest of fraudulent antique dealer Monson Mavunkal, a section of the Kerala Police officials is jittery after pictures of some very high ranking officials with the arrested surfaced.

On Thursday, the news came that former State Police chief Loknath Behra, who took over as the Managing Director of Kochi Metro has gone on leave. Behra superannuated on June 30 and very soon was given the post of the MD of Kochi Metro.

Though Behra is yet to speak about his links with Mavunkal, the news is that he has gone on leave for personal reasons for the treatment of his wife, which will take place at his home state, Orissa.

On Wednesday, the Kerala unit of the BJP demanded that a case be registered against all the high-ranking police officials who have had links with Mavunkal.

BJP General Secretary B. Gopalakrishnan said that visuals of Behra and Additional Director General of Police Manoj Abraham visiting the antique dealer at his Kochi ‘museum’ have come out.

He further alleged that complaints against this antique dealer had been lying with the police since 2018, and even the office of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is also under a cloud as no action was taken. Behra was the state police chief for the past nearly five years, till he retired in June.

Another information that surfaced was that at the residence of Mavunkal, both in Alappuzha and Kochi, which houses the antique museum, a police beat post was set up. This was done after the visit of Behra to the museum.

Mavunkal, 54, who claimed to have “some of the original 30 pieces of silver”, was arrested from his home at Chertalai in Alappuzha district on Saturday, even as his daughter’s marriage was being fixed.

On Tuesday, a court in Ernakulam gave two more days of Mavunkal’s custody to the Crime Branch police, who have been questioning him..

Since his arrest, everyday new stories of how Mavunkal has taken people for a ride. The image of the Kerala Police appears to have been dented even as on Thursday Vijayan while taking part in the passing out parade of new constables pointed out that the image of a government is validated through the functioning of the police.

For long, both Vijayan and Behra have enjoyed the best of relations. It now remains to be seen if following the fresh controversy whether there is any change in it and if the present leave taken by Behra is a short-term one, or not.

Mavunkal took all his high profile guests into his fold by showcasing antiques in his collection, which he claimed included the “staff of Moses” and “two of the 30 silver coins that were taken by Judas to cheat Jesus Christ”.

Police said that he had showcased these “rare” items — a throne said to be used by Tipu Sultan, as well as a huge collection of old Qurans, Bibles (Old Testament and New Testament), and old handwritten copies of Bhagavad Gita.

Mavunkal used to bring several VIPs to his palatial residence, a part of which was converted into a museum to house his ‘precious’ antiques.