Monson Mavunkal: Kerala opposition stages walkout from assembly, attacks CM
Kerala Assembly witnessed some angry scenes on Tuesday over Monson Mavunkal, who has been arrested in connection with the fraudulent sale of antiquities. Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) staged a walkout from the state assembly alleging that chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan was protecting top police officials who had nexus with Mavunkal.
The UDF had moved a notice of adjournment motion on the issue.
Vijayan, however, denied opposition's allegations and said that the police investigation in the case is progressing.
"The government received a complaint on September 6 against Monson Mavunkal for fraudulently embezzling crores of rupees by displaying fake antiquities. The complaint was lodged with the police and the case was registered on September 23 and an investigation was started. In this case, the police have been able to defend the accused's attempt to seek anticipatory bail in court. The accused was arrested by the police on September 25 on the basis of clear evidence. The accused is still in police custody," Vijayan said while replying to Congress MLA PT Thomas.
He also denied the opposition's allegation that the government supported those who tried to deceive the people by fabricating chempola (old engraving) regarding the rituals at Sabarimala.
Leader of the opposition VD Satheesan claimed that the intelligence wing of the state police had red-flagged Mavunkal as a fraudster in May 2019 and submitted a detailed enquiry report in January 2020. "For two years no action was taken and now a probe is carried out when top cops who visited the house are still holding the position of power," said Satheesan before staging a walkout.
The opposition noise in the Assembly came on a day when Kerala high court asked the state police chief whether he trusts the police under his command to carry out a proper investigation into the complaints against Mavunkal.
“Allegations are flying thick and high against police officers of several ranks in the state. In such a situation, can the Crime Branch conduct a proper investigation (into complaints against Mavunkal),” was one of the queries posed to DGP Anil Kant by Justice Devan Ramachandran.
The court said while the allegations against the police officers may not be correct, but since the force provided protection to the antique dealer despite being aware about the kind of items he had in his possession, it wants an answer from the police chief.
For close to a decade, Mavunkal, 52, used a mixture of deceit, charm, and carefully cultivated influence to make the implausible possible. He sold a walking cane as the staff of Moses, small earthen pots as Lord Krishna's favourite “dahi handi” and paintings by someone in Kochi as Pablo Picasso's art.
He was arrested by the crime branch, which kept the local police in the dark.
There are 14 FIRs registered against Mavunkal in various police stations across the state, with the sections ranging from 450 (cheating), 506 (criminal intimidation), 34 (impersonation) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) to 471 (using forged documents) of the Indian Penal Code.