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‘Solar scam’ shakes UDF in Kerala, TV actor held

Kerala Bureau
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Shalu Menon was taken for questioning by police team led by ADGP A. Hemachandran

Dancer and TV actor Shalu Menon, arrested on Fridayin connection with the ‘solar scam’, being brought out of the office of the Additional DGP A. Hemachandran in Thiruvananthapuram.— Photo: Special Arrangement
Dancer and TV actor Shalu Menon, arrested on Fridayin connection with the ‘solar scam’, being brought out of the office of the Additional DGP A. Hemachandran in Thiruvananthapuram.— Photo: Special Arrangement

Even as the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) continued to reel under the impact of the ‘solar scam,’ the police on Friday arrested Shalu Menon, dancer and Malayalam TV serial actor, whose name had come up repeatedly in police questioning and media reports in connection with the scam.

A police team took her into custody on Wednesday from her residence at Changanassery in Kottayam district and registered her arrest at Thiruvananthapuram, where she was taken for questioning by a high-level police team led by Additional DGP A. Hemachandran.

Ms. Menon came under police scanner when the hunt for the then absconding Biju Radhakrishnan, the first accused in the scam (relating to offer of solar energy solutions) who is under judicial custody now, brought to light the fact that he had used her cell phone and reached at a Thrissur hotel in her car during his flight from police. When questioned by the police last week, she claimed that she too was a victim of Mr. Radhakrishnan’s scam and was fleeced to the tune of Rs. 20 lakh.

There was widespread allegation that the police were deliberately delaying her arrest at the instance of political bosses. Matters came to a head when the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court in Thrissur directed the police, on a petition filed by a social activist, to register a first information report and investigate the charges against Ms. Menon. Police have now raised registered charges of cheating, conspiracy and impersonation against her.

The ruling alliance was also under pressure to arrest her following publication of photographs showing leaders of major political parties, most notably Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, at her house warming ceremony. Equally embarrassing for the ruling alliance was publication of metadata relating to telephonic exchanges between Saritha S. Nair, the second accused in the main case relating to the scam, and leading politicians, including four Ministers in the Oommen Chandy Cabinet.

How the phone call list reached the media is currently the matter of a special branch investigation and heated discussion within the State Congress. There have been calls for Mr. Radhakrishnan’s removal, but the decision at a meeting between Chief Minister Chandy and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala was apparently to let matters be for the time being.

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