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KOCHI: Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau (VACB) has initiated a preliminary inquiry into the incident in which gold lockets were sold in bulk at the Chottanikkara temple, soon after the Centre’s demonetisation drive.

The probe will focus on the suspected involvement of Devaswom officials in the sale.Earlier, VACB officials had taken the statement of Chottanikkara temple manager Biju Kumar. The agency had received information that, a day after the Rs 500/1000 notes were withdrawn, gold lockets weighing around 10 gm were put up for sale at the temple for Rs 30,000 each, and 90 pieces were sold on November 9 and 10.

“Such brisk sale is very unusual in such a short period of time. We are trying to identify the persons who bought the lockets, mostly using the cancelled currency notes,” said VACB officials, adding, “We are yet to register a case, as the preliminary inquiry is yet to be completed.”

On November 11, the temple authorities deposited the proceeds from the sale in a public sector bank, and the bank officials directed them not to accept the old currency notes anymore. The VACB suspects that the gold was purchased mainly by persons associated with the Cochin Devaswom Board.
“Only those who visited the temple regularly would know that the old currencies were being accepted against sale of gold lockets,” said the officials.