A series of scams and a sensational case of disappearance of arms from the police arsenal have put the Kerala Police in the dock.
A day after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) submitted a report damning the Director General of Police Lokanath Behera for financial irregularities in the utilisation of government funds and the mysterious disappearance of 25 rifles and 12,000 bullets from the police battery, the police chief’s hands are suspected in the award of a sensitive surveillance deal to a private company.
Union minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan has expressed serious apprehension about the missing arms, wondering whether these have ended up in the hands of terrorists. The missing bullets were discovered to have been replaced with dummy ones, indicating a serious conspiracy with the involvement of insiders.
Muraleedharan’s remarks assume significance in view of the fact that several terrorist incidents in different parts of the country have had Kerala connections, with the involvement of some of the militant outfits operating out of the state.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala has demanded the dismissal of DGP Behera and institution of a probe by NIA into the disappearance of arms. He also wants a CBI inquiry into the findings of CAG.
The CAG report, which was presented to the state assembly by Finance Minister Thomas Issac, levelled serious allegations against Behera, including violation of tendering guidelines in the purchase of bullet-proof vehicles. The CAG also found that the police chief diverted funds meant for other purposes to construct luxury villas for himself and other senior officers.
The police chief, who is known to be a favourite of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, met the chief minister and explained the situation in the wake of the CAG findings. The Chief Minister is learnt to have advised the DGP not to answer media queries and insisted that his response would be provided to the right forum such as the Public Accounts Committee.
When media persons asked the chief minister about the CAG findings, he said that appropriate action would be taken as per due procedure, but refused to comment on the points raised by CAG.
Making Behera’s position further untenable, there have been fresh revelations of irregularities on the part of the police chief in connection with the surveillance system ordered by the state police. It is alleged that a deal between the police department and state owned electronics firm Keltron for installing a subscription-based surveillance system connecting private establishments has been entrusted to a private company, giving its access to the sensitive police control room.
The private company claims that its deal is with Keltron and the police chief is not in the picture, but the claim fails to convince in view of the several irregularities that have been detected involving the police chief.
Meanwhile, the DGP has taken permission from the state government for a tour of Great Britain, which happens at a time when his office is under a cloud.