In an unprecedented move that has taken the Tamil Nadu government by surprise, a group of senior officers and policemen in the state’s Idol Wing department held a press conference in Chennai Wednesday and levelled serious charges against their own boss, a former IG who was appointed as a special officer by the Madras High Court to probe cases after his retirement on November 30.Speaking to reporters, two senior officers holding the rank of Additional SP, and others including DySPs, inspectors and constables, said they have asked the state’s DGP T K Rajendran to relieve them from the team headed by A G Ponn Manickavel. They alleged that Manickavel was blocking various probes and forcing officers to arrest those who are wrongly accused in cases without valid evidence.
“In the last one year, no independent investigation has been possible. No transparent probe was allowed… There are about 313 cases to be probed. But not a single case is being probed under his leadership. So far, the accused in just two cases have been arrested. There are some 100 statues in Australia to be recovered and culprits are to be arrested. But nothing is being probed,” Additional SP A Elango, who was part of the group, claimed.
Before his retirement, Manickavel was reportedly involved in multiple spats with his superiors who accused him of breach of protocol and not briefing them adequately about his investigations, which were being conducted under the supervision of Madras High Court. Manickavel had accused his superiors of allegedly trying to retrieve confidential information about investigations. Subsequently, the state government issued an order last year to transfer all pending idol theft cases to the CBI ahead of Manickavel’s retirement.
However, a special division bench of Justices P D Audikesavalu and R Mahadevan, who had been monitoring the probes, passed an order on November 30, quashing the government directive and appointing Manickavel as a special officer to head the department. The High Court had earlier, too, stepped in to block moves by the government to transfer Manickavel from the Idol Wing.
Wednesday’s press conference followed a meeting Tuesday between the group of officers and DGP Rajendran. Following the meeting, Rajendran issued a press note stating that an Additional SP, DySP, four Inspectors and six Special Sub-Inspectors had submitted a representation against Manickavel. The DGP’s note had also detailed their complaints against Manickavel, including that he allegedly forced his junior officers to book cases and investigate them contrary to law without relevant documents or evidence.
Manickavel was not available for comment.