By Jeemon Jacob
THE NATIONAL Investigation Agency (NIA) has established that Kerala Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tomin J Thachankary hobnobbed with several persons linked to terror outfits during a visit to Doha in March 2010. The 1987 batch IPS officer has always been in the news. A report in TEHELKA (NIA probes point to Kerala as new hub of terror funds by Shahina KK, 17 July 2010) had shown the state to have a disproportionate share of six out of 14 cases being looked into by the apex agency, the most sensitive being that of ‘an IPS officer’.
After a 14-month suspension for going abroad without permission, Thachankary was reinstated on 6 July by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, but not assigned any duties. The CM had claimed that the controversial officer was being reinstated as per the direction of the Union home ministry. But Union Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran says: “He was not reinstated on our direction.” According to a senior police official, the CM was under pressure to re-instate the officer as he wanted to be back in service before the NIA report nailed him.
Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, Ambassador to Qatar, had alerted the home ministry to Thachankary’s suspicious presence in Doha. A probe was ordered by then Home Secretary GK Pillai. During the investigation, the envoy got several threatening calls.
According to the report submitted to the home ministry, Thachankary reached Doha on 9 March 2010 and stayed at the Gulf Horizon Plaza in Souq Jabor. He shifted to suite No. 608 in Ramada Plaza the next day and made calls on phone No. 66496708 to persons with alleged links to terror outfits. He also met NRI businessmen to collect statements. The NIA team headed by Additional Inspector General Shahid Farid Shapu visited Doha for statements from the hotel’s managers, businessmen and embassy officials.
The NIA states that Thachankary, then IGP, Northern Range, contacted Azar and Yusuf, accused in the 2006 Kozhikode bomb blast case. Both accused left India after the blast and are now known to be hiding in Doha. He also contacted Ayub and Shuhabib, who were under the scanner of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). The report alleged that Ayub and Shuhabib are funding terror outfits in India. Ayub visited Pakistan several times and is allegedly an ISI contact.
WHEN CONTACTED by TEHELKA, Thachankary denied any link with terror outfits: “If you can prove that I contacted persons with terror links during my Gulf visit, you can hang me. My only crime is that I went to a foreign country without permission from the government.” To the NIA, he has however admitted to contacting persons accused in terror-related cases. “My plan was to get them to surrender to the law,” he says.
According to a police official, the CM was under pressure to reinstate the suspended officer
But the NIA is sceptical. “We are not convinced about his motives… he was not entrusted with the investigation of terror-related cases,” says an NIA official. Thachankary’s suspension on 23 June 2010 by the Kerala chief secretary was for making trips to foreign countries without prior permission from the government. When his Gulf visit hit headlines last year, he had rushed back to Kannur to rejoin duty on 11 April.
When T Naseer was arrested from Bangladesh and handed over to Karnataka Police (in connection with the July 2008 Bengaluru blasts), Thachankary flew to Bengaluru to join the interrogation team. But they did not entertain him.
Last year, the state vigilance department found that Thachankary had amassed Rs 79 lakh and recommended prosecution. No action was taken by the then Left Front government. Now, his luck seems to have run out.
Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka.