Nearly a fortnight after 500 kg of stale and stinking chicken was seized by the Health wing of the Kalamassery Municipality from an illegally operated chicken supplying unit at Kaipadamugal, the police on Monday night nabbed the prime accused who allegedly ran the unit.
The accused, who was taken into custody from Malappuram by the Kalamassery police, was identified as Junais of Mannarkad in Palakkad. He is set to be brought to Kochi on Tuesday.
According to the police, Junais had gone into hiding after the seizure. They are hopeful of landing more details on grilling him. He stands booked under IPC Sections 269 (unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life) and 273 (Offering as food or drink, any article which has been rendered or has become noxious).
As shocking the discovery of the stale chicken was, the incident assumed further significance after the police seized documents, including bills and receipts, indicating the sale of meat to nearly 50 hotels and bakeries, including prominent ones, in Kochi.
Earlier, the police had seized documents including bills and receipts of sale of chicken to nearly 50 eateries and shops in Kochi. A portion of the house was being used for running the unit which did not have the requisite licence issued by the municipality. Chicken, reportedly brought from Tamil Nadu, was found stored in a three-layered freezer.
Food Safety and Health officials had collected samples of chicken for analysis and sealed the unit following the seizure of stale chicken and used oil on January 12. Preliminary findings of the Department of Food Safety had since then revealed the presence of E.coli bacteria in the seized chicken.
The incident had also assumed political manifestations with the Opposition Left Democratic Front accusing the ruling dispensation of releasing the names of only a section of shops and eateries that had allegedly bought chicken from the unit. A council meeting held last Saturday also witnessed heated trading of charges by the ruling and Opposition benches over the issue.