Prime accused in Kerala cheating case arrested from Coimbatore

Thiruvananthapuram, June 17 (IANS) The prime accused in a cheating case that saw two members of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's office lose their jobs last week, was arrested from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu Monday, according to the man's counsel.

The other accused in the case, Saritha S. Nair, was arrested on June 3.

Her telephone call details showed that she had been in close contact with Chandy's personal assistant, Teny Jopan, and one of his gunmen, Salim Raj. The two were dismissed last week.

State Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan confirmed the arrest of Biju Radhakrishnan, the prime accused in the case.

"A team of Kerala Police with help from Tamil Nadu's Q branch made the arrest today (Monday) afternoon. I did speak to him last week. Now, in 24 hours, the police must produce him in court," Radhakrishnan's counsel said.

Nair, and her former live-in partner Radhakrishnan, had formed a company "Team Solar", engaged in erecting solar panels at offices and homes. They had managed to collect crores of rupees from influential people in the state on the promise of providing the equipment to tap green sources of energy.

Following numerous complaints of cheating, Nair was arrested.

Since her arrest, a TV channel backed by the Communist Party of India-Marxist came out with a list of calls made by Nair, which showed that she had maintained close links with the office of Chandy.

Police sources say Radhakrishnan, after his arrest, is being brought to Kollam, where a criminal case is being made against him, dating back a few years, when his wife was murdered.

The assembly witnessed uproarious scenes Monday, with the Left opposition reiterating that Chandy should resign and order a judicial probe. The demands were flatly denied by the chief minister.

Meanwhile, the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) met and gave a clean chit to Chandy.

"The UDF has given a clean chit to the chief minister and the Left opposition is simply trying to kick up a needless controversy. He has already taken action and the probe is currently on," state Labour Minister Shibu Baby John said, after the meeting.

Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) convenor Vaikom Viswan, however, said the arrest of Radhakrishnan is nothing but a stage-managed affair.

"The police will now do the job of cleaning up Chandy. But he has no other option but to quit and face a probe. We will not budge from this demand," Viswan told reporters here.