A day before the Kerala Police Crime Branch is to submit its report to the High Court on the progress of the probe into the fake antique dealer case, the statements of its former chief Loknath Behra and serving police officials — Additional Director General of police Manoj Abraham and IG of Police G. Lekshmana — were taken. Eyebrows were raised soon after the arrest of 54-year-old Monson Mavunkal by the Crime Branch police from his home cum museum last month after victims approached Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with their complaints that they were swindled of Rs 10 crore by this master ‘fraud’, who managed to even take the top Kerala Police officials for a ride. Behra retired from service in June this year. The pictures of Behra and Abraham visiting the ‘museum’ of Mavunkal became viral in social media and these pictures were taken a few years back. Following widespread flak that the Kerala Police received from even the High Court, which expressed doubts if the ongoing probe by the police would be of any use and the opposition attacking the Pinarayi Vijayan government, the probe team decided to leave nothing to chance. Top Crime branch officials took the statement from Behra, Abraham and Lekshmana and will be filed in the court when it comes up for hearing on Tuesday. Mavunkal is alleged to have sponsored a high profile Kerala Police run Cyber conference a few years ago, when Behra was at the helm of the State Police. 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 museum to house his ‘precious’ antiques. Mavunkal is presently in judicial custody.
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