Conman who sold Moses's staff, Krishna's dahi handi
Hindustan Times Delhi|October 01, 2021
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A walking cane sold as the staff of Moses. Small earthen pots made in provincial Cherthala passed off as Lord Krishna's favourite dahi handi”. Paintings by someone in Kochi sold as Pablo Picasso's art.
Ramesh Babu

For close to a decade, 52-year-old Monson Mavunkal used a mixture of deceit, charm, and carefully cultivated influence to make the implausible possible. His sway spread far and wide in Kochi as he played constantly shifting roles. Motivational speaker, doctor, cosmetologist, art promoter, antique collector, YouTube star - he was everything. Until Sunday, when the Kerala Crime Branch arrested him.

In an operation that fit perfectly with the dramatic story of his life, he was arrested at a function to mark his daughter's engagement, even as the local police station was kept in the dark.

Soon after the ceremony ended, police personnel in plain clothes swooped down on Mavunkal, evading pistol-brandishing bouncers who tried to prevent the arrest. The bouncers fled when they realised the men were from the Kerala Crime Branch. The weapons they left behind, the police soon found, were toys.

There are 14 FIRs registered against Mavunkal in various police stations across the state, with the sections ranging from 450 (cheating), 506 (criminal intimidation), 34 (impersonation) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) to 471 (using forged documents) of the Indian Penal Code.

For years, he built his identity as that of a social climber. As different state police chiefs took charge over the years, he was always among the first to felicitate them, making sure there was a photograph. These photos he later used in his world of truth, half-truths and lies, making people believe that he knew people across the world, from the Sultan of Brunei to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In Kerala, even as details of Mavunkal's deceit and crimes have started to unfold, earning him the moniker of “King Liar, top police officers, ministers, members of Parliament, even the state Congress president, who either knew him or were photographed with him, are scrambling to distance themselves from him.

After his arrest, in connection with a cheating case where he defrauded five businessmen of ₹10 crore in Kochi, about a dozen new cases have surfaced, most of them involving cheating, forgery, impersonation, and charges of intimidation.

A senior police officer, who asked not to be named, said the list may grow as businessmen conned by Mavunkal come forward to narrate their experiences. Most, officials said, were hesitant to reveal their identities in public, fearing loss of face.

Two senior officers of IG and DIG rank will also come under the ambit of investigation, a senior officer investigating the case said. It is a fact that there are criminal elements in police, and Mavunkal used them to further his status and illegal trade, he admitted.

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