Police probe own officers’ role in hawala robbery at Kodakara

Rs 2.58 crore seized from car in Malappuram after tip-off

Thrissur: Three cops are under scrutiny over their role in the staged accident carried out by a gang to rob carriers ferrying unaccounted money allegedly for the election expenses of a national political party.

The Kerala Police has initiated an internal probe into the accident on suspicion that a few police officers were also involved in the incident.

Rs 3.5 crore smuggled in through the hawala route was robbed by a gang after staging an accident at Kodakara early on April 3.

Police launched the probe on suspicion that three of its officers had been involved in the conspiracy that led to the accident.

Initial investigation revealed that a prominent person arrested in the case had established contacts with police officers. An accused, Martin of Vallangallur, reportedly told investigators that an officer attached to the Irinjalakkuda police station had demanded Rs 30,000 from the gang that allegedly staged the accident.

The gang had reportedly asked the officer to confiscate the car at the district border if the vehicle smuggling in the money took the Kodangallur route to Ernakulam. Martin revealed that Rs 10,000, as first instalment, was also handed over to the police officer.

The officer had been told not to intervene if the vehicle took the Chalakkudy-Kodakara route. The gang said they would handle it themselves.

The accused stated that the officer demanded more money after knowing that the robbery had taken place at Kodakara. The internal probe was launched based on Martin’s statement.

The First-Class Judicial Magistrate Court in Irinjalakkuda, meanwhile, remanded the arrested seven accused in custody for 14 days. Weapons seized from their vehicles were presented in the court.

Police are now searching certain areas in Kozhikode and Kannur for three key suspects in the case.

The accident happened around 4 am on April 3, and the smugglers were robbed of Rs 3.5 crore. Though police have specific information, it remains a mystery why the national party has not been named yet. It has been alleged that the case might be closed on a fake complaint that Rs 25 lakh had been lost in the incident.

Media kept at bay

Senior police officers have ordered against informing the media about the progress of the case. Though the incident had happened on April 3, a proper investigation was not initiated till the media reports brought it to light after about three-and-a-half weeks.

The first arrest was made 24 days after receiving CCTV visuals of the cars the gang had used, and that too after news reports were published. This gave strength to allegations that a move had been initiated to settle the case before it became public.

Police have specific information

Police have specific information about the robbery of money smuggled in to fund the poll campaign of a national party, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told a news conference on Tuesday.

“Police know how the money came in. But it is not known why it has not been not revealed. Perhaps, they do so out of propriety,” Vijayan, who also holds the Home portfolio, said. He did not toe the CPM allegation that the money was brought in for the BJP.

'Bid to keep vaccine shortage under wraps'

Referring to Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan’s allegations against mega vaccination camps, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said he was levelling charges to divert attention from the Centre’s inability to provide adequate doses of the vaccine to the State.

“The situation will be further execrable if I respond in kind,” the chief minister said, hinting that the BJP leader had stooped to lower levels.

“This is not the time to respond to allegations. We are thinking of means to contain the spread of COVID. Those who had earlier opposed the vaccination drive have become quiet after realizing the efficacy of the vaccine,” he added.

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