New Delhi: Kerala police chief Loknath Behera, who is in the eye of a storm following the tough actions taken by cops at Sabarimala temple, is no stranger to controversies.
According to sources in the home ministry, Behera, who was a senior official with the National Investigation Agency (NIA), was shunted out of the agency after he allegedly leaked information about the arrest of Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Yasin Bhatkal involved in several bomb explosions in India, including the Mumbai serial train blasts in 2006.
Behera was shifted from NIA immediately after an inquiry revealed that he had leaked crucial information about the IM terrorist's arrest, sources said. Yasin Bhatkal, who was once NIA's most wanted terrorist, was arrested from Raxaul in Bihar in August 2013.
Behera was also part of the team that went to the US for questioning David Headley, a convict in the 26/11 terror strike in Mumbai in 2008. A Lashkar operative, Headley had visited Mumbai several times to scout targets for the attacks, which killed 168 people.
In this investigation also, Behera had drawn flak for the conduct of the probe, sources said.
Last week Congress targetted him with KPCC chief Mullappally Ramachandran alleging that the IPS officer was made Kerala police chief at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress leader claimed that Behera, as a senior NIA officer, had given Modi and BJP president Amit Shah a 'clean chit' in cases related to Gujarat riots and Ishrat Jahan fake encounter.
Mullappally Ramachandran, who had served as minister of state for home affairs for five years in the Manmohan Singh cabinet in 2009, made the allegation at a meeting of the Youth League in Vatkara in Kozhikode district last week.
Mullappally said as a Union minister, he had gone through several files on 2002 Gujarat riots, Ishrat Jahan case, relating to the fake encounter killing of a 19-year-old woman and three others on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, and several other cases. Modi, who was the then Gujarat chief minister, and Amit Shah, the then home minister, were co-accused in the fake encounter case.
Mullappally alleged that Behera was one of the officers of the NIA, who had prepared the report 'giving clean chit' to Modi and Shah.
As a quid pro quo, the KPCC chief alleged Behera was appointed Kerala DGP on the directions of the prime minister.
As allegations against Behera intensified, a couple of CPM central leaders said they had earlier taken a stand against Behera being made the DGP. They said they were not aware that Behera was made the top cop without adhering to seniority norms.
Ishrat Jahan was a second year BSc student at Mumbai's Guru Nanak Khalsa College. She, along with three others, was shot dead by Gujarat police on June 15, 2004, claiming that they were terrorists on mission.
The CBI had accused several Gujarat police officers of killing the four in a fake encounter.
Yasin Bhatkal was sentenced to death by an NIA court in Hyderabad on December 19, 2016 and is lodged in Delhi's Tihar jail now. David Headley was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a US court for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.