The unholy cop nexus in Kerala conman Monsons crime sheet

The unholy 'cop nexus' in Kerala conman Monson's crime sheet

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The case of con artist Monson Mavunkal is not only one of financial fraud, but of a multi-dimensional crime story in which the top brass in the state police seems to have involvement – wittingly or unwittingly.

Monson was recently arrested by the Crime Branch from Kochi, on charges of swindling money worth crores from people by selling fake antiques.

It is to be noted that the fake antique collection of Monson had been given protection by the Kerala Police through a 2019 order by the former police chief Loknath Behra.

In an order dated June 13, 2019, the state police directed the Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) and other concerned officers in Kochi and Alappuzha to provide adequate protection and to do a “periodical monitoring” of Monson’s houses where “a large number of very rare, high value unique antiques” are kept. The matter was discussed in a series of communications between the district police chiefs of Alappuzha and Ernakulam, copies of which The Federal has access to. The letter sent by the District Police Chief of Alappuzha, stated that police have visited Monson’s house and verified the antique collection owned by him.

Since Monson’s arrest, the Kerala Police have been slammed for either being utterly foolish or being an accomplice to Monson’s crimes by not ascertaining his credentials as an art dealer and conducting the due diligence of antiquities sold by him.

This brings us to the question – What defines an antique?

Under the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972, an antique is “any article, object or thing which has been in existence for not less than 100 years”. If it is a document, record or manuscript, it should be in existence for 75 years. That apart these products or material have to be listed by the central government by a Gazette notification. The Act also lays down the rule for buying or selling an antique item. According to Section 7 of the act, any person desiring to do the business of selling antique material needs to obtain a licence from the concerned authority. The licencing officer, authorised by the government under the Act is the authority to grant licence.

Also read: King of antics: The life and lies of Kerala con artist Monson

“The police say that they have investigated and verified the antique collection and his (Monson’s) house premises for the purpose of providing protection. Don’t they know how to define an antique item? Don’t they ever know that a person selling antique material needs a licence? Haven’t they ever asked him to show his licence? This is unbelievable,” says advocate MR Abhilash, a lawyer in the Kerala High Court.

Photos of celebrities and former Kerala Director-General of Police Lokanath Behera sitting on the ‘throne of Tipu Sultan’ and carrying his ‘sword’ only strengthens the case against the police.

More pieces of evidence are being unearthed that prove that Monson has been using all these photographs either to convince or to silence people for his gain. A couple of leaked phone conservations between Monson and his clients prove the same. This includes his conversation with Inspector General of Police G Lakshman who allegedly helped Monson in a previous case of fraud against him.

This is not the first time an investigation has been launched against the fake antique dealer. Based on a previous complaint of financial fraud that surfaced in 2010, an investigation was carried out by the local police. The then IG Lakshman has allegedly changed the investigating officer and handed over the probe to another team. The order was later revoked by the ADGP and Lakshman was served a show cause notice.

Financial fraud and cheating are not the only criminal offences in which Monson is an accused. Earlier this year, a 22-year-old rape survivor from Ernakulam filed a private complaint in the First Class Judicial Magistrate court at Ernakulam, alleging that Monson had asked her to withdraw a rape case against his friend by threatening her to release her nude photographs if she didn’t oblige.

Monsoon is a co-accused in the complaint filed by the woman on March 25, 2021 with the magistrate’s court.

In her earlier FIR, filed with the Kalamassery Police in Ernakulam, the woman had alleged that a person named Sarath forced her to have sexual intercourse with him under the false pretext of marriage. The complainant said that after she filed the FIR, Monson Mavunkal called a friend of the woman’s elder brother to his office and showed him her nude video. He threatened to leak the video if she didn’t withdraw the complaint. He also told her brother’s friend that the video was sent to him by Sarath, the first accused, who allegedly raped the woman. Despite filing a complaint with the police, the woman alleged that no criminal proceedings were initiated against both the accused, forcing her to file a private complaint in the court.

The woman recounted her story to the media, after Monson was arrested for his fake antique business.

The above accounts only solidify the allegations of an unholy nexus between police department and the fake antique dealer and all attempts to shield him so far.

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