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Seer cops in proof scramble

Kancheepuram, Dec. 5: For the first time since Jayendra Saraswati's arrest in connection with a murder, the special investigation team is under pressure to come up with the alleged 'vital links' between the killers and the Kanchi seer.

Tamil Nadu police now face the dilemma of 'what next' after the seven-member team, which had dashed to Hyderabad and Delhi to arrest two other key accused Ravi Subramanian and Appu, returned to Chennai last night disappointed.

Police sources here neither confirmed nor denied whether Chennai-based builder Subramanian and the killer gang's kingpin Appu had been arrested, fuelling speculation on their whereabouts. Some, however, said Appu is already in police hands and is being questioned in a private bungalow at Utthandi on the way to the tourist resort of Mamallapuram.

After the recent setbacks it suffered, the prosecution needs to come up with concrete evidence when hearing on the seer's second bail plea resumes tomorrow in Madras High Court.

On November 24, Kathiravan, who along with another suspect had implicated Jayendra Saraswati in the murder of temple official Shankar Raman, had told a Kancheepuram court that he had made the statements after being tortured and tutored. The second key suspect, Rajni, then intervened to tell the magistrate that 'his teeth and hands were broken' in custody.

On Wednesday, after all but implicating a woman from Srirangam in the murder, the prosecution turned around and said she was innocent.

In this backdrop, investigators are now probing the alleged payments from a mutt-related bank account here to members of the killer gang said to have been routed through Subramanian.

The Kanchi mutt's manager, Sundaresa Iyer, in particular is being questioned almost every day as he signs the cheques issued on the mutt's behalf. Neelakanta Iyer, who executes the acharya's orders ' has been grilled, too, besides some others who work for the mutt or have long been associated with it.

There is speculation that Sundaresa Iyer could be arrested any time.

Over half-a-dozen officials of local banks have also been summoned for questioning as part of efforts to track the so-called payment route that allegedly delivered Rs 40 lakh to the killer gang to eliminate Shankar Raman.

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