Bhubaneswar: The Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government on Wednesday announced the appointment of Odisha-born IPS officer Lokanath Behera as state police chief with incumbent T.P. Senkumar due to retire on Friday.
Behera was posted as the Vigilance chief, when Senkumar was reinstalled as police chief following the apex court’s intervention.
“I am very grateful to the government for giving me the post. I will continue the work I had started when I was there before,” Behera said after the government brought him back to the prestigious post.
“My passion is investigation and I like it,” Behera said to the media after hearing the news of the state cabinet appointing him the police chief.
Senkumar in May got back the post after an 11-month legal battle, when the Supreme Court directed the Vijayan government to post him back as chief.
However, the cabinet meeting has not decided who will be the new Vigilance chief.
Vijayan had removed Senkumar the day he became Chief Minister in May last year and appointed Behera, the blue-eyed boy of the CPI-M, and brought back Jacob Thomas as Vigilance chief.
However, Thomas was later moved out to accommodate Behera as the Vigilance chief, when Senkumar was posted back as state police chief.
Thomas, the senior most police officer, then proceeded on leave.
Recently he returned after leave and was posted in a non-policing job as director of the Institute of Management in Kerala. He had then said that very soon he will “open his mind”.
Congress party spokesperson Joseph Vazhaken said that no one had any doubts on who would be the new chief as the CPI-M and Behera are very close.
“We now feel that Additional Director General of Police Tomin J. Thachenkery will be made the new Vigilance chief and with that, for the CPI-M, everything will be in order. Thachenkery was posted in the police headquarters to keep a tab on Senkumar, and now since that is over we feel he will be made the Vigilance chief,” said Vazhaken.
State BJP spokesperson M.T. Ramesh, criticising Behera’s appointment, said “never before has our state seen any government keeping the police under their arms like now”.
The 1985-batch IPS officer Behera is from Puri district in Odisha.
(With IANS input)