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Probe cop shifted, seer to stay in jail

Kancheepuram, Nov. 26: This temple town woke up today to news that the Kancheepuram superintendent of police, part of the team probing the murder of temple manager Shankar Raman, has been transferred suddenly. He has been replaced by the man who was SP when the September 3 murder occurred.

Amid these developments, it was another day of twists and turns for Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswati, the prime accused in the murder.

The upright and no-nonsense S. Davidson was transferred past midnight last night, just hours after meeting Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa in Chennai. A terse statement said Davidson 'entered on leave'.

K. Premkumar was named the new SP and will continue to lead the special investigation team that he headed even when he was shunted out of Kancheepuram to Cuddalore. Sakthivel, additional deputy superintendent of police, Kancheepuram, will continue as the chief investigating officer in the case. Raman was murdered inside the Sri Varadaraja Perumal temple here.

The government has given no reason for the transfers but they have been accompanied by other senior-level changes that have seen director-general of police A.X. Alexander return as state DGP, intelligence.

Sources say Davidson wanted to be transferred or proceed on leave and Jayalalithaa agreed to the latter. Some local Sangh parivar outfits have been targeting Davidson over the seer's arrest, pointing to his being Christian.

The Jayalalithaa regime has set up three more teams under another additional DSP to investigate 'fresh complaints' against the Kanchi mutt in the wake of the seer's arrest. These include a complaint about the 1985 death of two boys belonging to the Veda Patasala that the mutt runs and one about an alleged attack on temple priest Madhavan in Chennai earlier this year.

The seer was today brought to the first judicial magistrate's court here at 11.10 am from Vellore central jail for extending his remand. Magistrate Uthamraj extended the judicial remand of a clean-shaven and somewhat rundown seer till December 10.

In the afternoon, the seer was driven down in the same police van to the 23rd metropolitan magistrate's court in Saidapet, south Chennai, to be formally remanded in a case relating to the alleged 2002 attack on former mutt aide Radhakrishnan, his wife and their servant in Chennai. The seer had been served the arrest memo in this case at Vellore central prison on Tuesday.

When magistrate Uma Maheswari asked him if police had harassed him, the acharya said no. But, questioned if he had anything to say about the second case, he replied: 'Idhu Sariyana Case Illai Endru Mattum Thondrugirathu (It seems a false case).'

Maheswari remanded the seer till December 9, but said he need not come down from Vellore again as the Chennai courts could extend remand by the recently installed video-conferencing facility.

Jayalalithaa has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, telling him the seer was being treated 'with utmost dignity and consideration befitting his religious status and position in society'. Singh had sent her a letter last night asking that someone of the seer's eminence be shown 'extreme care and consideration'.

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