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KPCC chief Sudhakaran arrested by Crime Branch, later released on bail

Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala too equated Vijayan with Modi by alleging that they both share the same fascist attitude of imprisoning those critical of their government

K Sudhakaran

K Sudhakaran

Press Trust of India Kochi
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief K Sudhakaran was on Friday arrested by the Crime Branch wing of the police in a cheating case, in which the prime accused is controversial antique dealer Monson Mavunkal, and later released on bail.
Sudhakaran, after being released on bail, told reporters that he was arrested after several hours of questioning by the Crime Branch before which he had appeared in the morning for questioning.
"They questioned me. After that, they recorded my arrest and then I was released on bail. I have faith in the judiciary. I will face the case in court," he told reporters here.
Sudhakaran, surrounded by several party leaders and workers, said that he was "fully confident" that the police had no evidence against him in the case for him to be punished.
"I am not afraid. I am not going to hide anywhere," he said.
On being asked whether he rejected links with Mavunkal, the KPCC chief said that he has.
Meanwhile, senior party leaders of Congress in Kerala criticised Sudhakaran's arrest and termed it as a "political conspiracy".
Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the state assembly V D Satheesan contended the Left government was "ruled by fear" and was therefore trying to silence the opposition by such tactics.
He said that both the Congress and the UDF opposition led by it would resist the Left government's alleged move of filing false cases against the opposition leaders who are criticising the administration and making allegations of corruption against it.
Satheesan alleged that the actions of Chief Minister Pinaryi Vijayan in Kerala were a "carbon copy" of what Prime Minister Narendra Modi was doing in Delhi.
Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala too equated Vijayan with Modi by alleging that they both share the same fascist attitude of imprisoning those critical of their government.
He contended that Sudhakaran's arrest was "politically motivated" and would be countered legally and politically.
Chennithala also said that the KPCC chief's arrest was a "drama" to divert public attention from the alleged corruption and mismanagement by the state government.
He also said that Vijayan and CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan were living in a "fool's paradise" if they thought they can silence the opposition by such moves.
He also took a dig at the police by joking that the force allegedly stands with its hands tied when party criminals walk in front of it and now it was also hiding criminals.
KPCC general secretary T U Radhakrishnan also spoke in support of his party's state unit chief and said June 24 would be observed as a Black Day by Congress across Kerala in protest against Sudhakaran's arrest in a false case against him.
He said that Congress workers from booth level onwards would light torches and hold demonstrations in all districts and asked party workers to exercise restraint during their protests and agitations.
Earlier in the day, prior to leaving for the Crime Branch office here, Sudhakaran told media that his "conscience is clear" and he has "not committed any wrong or illegality" and therefore, he does not need to fear anyone or anything.
"No matter what statement they (Crime Branch) have, as long as my conscience is clear I do not need to fear anything. Whatever be the evidence they have, let it come. I will face it.
"I know what I did and didn't do. My conscience tells me I have done no wrong. I have not misused anyone. I have not accepted bribes from anyone. In my life and politics, I am a politician who has never accepted a bribe. It is political ethics. Therefore, I do not need to fear anyone," the KPCC chief said.
During the day, CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan told reporters in Delhi that his remarks against Sudhakaran in connection with a POCSO case were based on a news report and he was sticking to his stand until new evidence came to the contrary.
"Let it be investigated, that is what I had said," he said.
Govindan, citing a report that appeared in his party's mouthpiece Deshabhimani, had claimed on June 18 that the minor victim in the rape case told the Crime Branch that Sudhakaran was present at one of the locations where she was raped by Mavunkal, and therefore the special wing might question the KPCC leader.
However, hours later on the same day, in a setback for the CPI(M), the Crime Branch wing of Kerala police said no such statement was ever made by the victim.
Mavunkal was on June 17 sentenced to life term in prison for rape of the minor victim who was the daughter of his maid.
The Kerala High Court on Wednesday, while asking Sudhakaran to appear before the Crime Branch on June 23, had said that in the event he is arrested in the cheating case, he shall be released on bail on furnishing a bond of Rs 50,000 with two sureties of the like amount.
"This order shall be in force for two weeks," the court had said.
It had also directed the KPCC chief to cooperate with the investigation and not to attempt to intimidate or influence witnesses in the case.
The order came on the anticipatory bail plea filed by Sudhakaran who was asked to appear before the Crime Branch, which is probing the cheating case.
The Crime Branch had decided to interrogate the KPCC president on the basis of a statement by complainants, who lost their money in the cheating case, claiming they had handed over money to Mavunkal in the presence of Sudhakaran.
Earlier, the agency had submitted an additional report before the court here, arraigning Sudhakaran as an accused in the case.
When the allegations cropped up against him two years ago, Sudhakaran denied them.
The issue had snowballed into a political controversy as images of Mavunkal, along with Sudhakaran, emerged. Sudhakaran had said he had gone to Mavunkal's residence for treatment, as the latter claimed to be a trained cosmetologist.
Mavunkal had allegedly made false representations about himself and his business to various people and collected money from them.
Many images of Mavunkal with senior police officers and bureaucrats of the state have surfaced.
Cherthala native Mavunkal, who claims to be in possession of rare and historic antiques, was arrested by the Crime Branch in September 2021.
He is facing charges of having swindled Rs 10 crore from several people.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Jun 23 2023 | 9:14 PM IST

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