Six police constables including a “deserter” were among seven persons arrested by the Tiruchi rural police on Wednesday on the charge of cheating a temple priest at Ariyakonpatti village.

Among the arrested, Gnanakumar, Sivakumar, Marmaveeran and the “deserter”, Siva, are attached to the Tiruchi City Police Armed Reserve and Kumaresan is attached to Valanadu police station while Edwin is serving in Dindigul district. The constables along with another accused, Sivakumar, were remanded to judicial custody after being produced before the Manapparai Judicial Magistrate. Seven persons, including a retired head constable, were already arrested by the Valanadu police.

Seven persons approached the priest - P. Palaniappan - at his house on January 24 under the guise of buying an antique conch. Even as negotiations were on, another group arrived in a car and posed as a Crime Branch-CID team.

They took the conch under the pretext of checking and sped away. The negotiating group was detained by the locals along with its three vehicles and handed over to the Valanadu police. A cheating case was registered against them on Palaniappan’s complaint. A special team was formed to apprehend the group that took away the conch.

Based on a tip-off, the team constituted by the Superintendent of Police, Tiruchi Rural, A. Kaliyamurthy, interrogated constable Kumaresan. During enquiry, Kumaresan reportedly confessed that the absconding group had handed over to him the conch along with a sum of Rs. 1.75 lakh for the purpose of getting absolved from the case.

The team recovered the conch and the cash, and apprehended the rest of the offenders. Sources said constable Edwin, the brain behind the crime, had despatched the negotiating group with the intention of taking possession of the conch and selling the same at a premium.