Supercopís image often shiny, twice clouded
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Mathews had built his reputation by cracking a sensational twin murder case in 1980, when he was an ASP in Chengannur. He had picked up the leads in the case, now known as Thiruvalla Karikkanvilla murder, from the prints of a foreign-made pair of shoes at the scene of the crime. In those days, popular Malayalam weeklies would serialise sensational crimes and Mathews acquired the image of a super detective. He also became a darling of media organisations under Christian managements. His career saw several occasions when efforts were made to mobilise public opinion that he should probe major cases. Even after the ISRO probe mess, governments turned to Mathews to investigate high-profile cases. It was the CPM government of 1996-2001 that entrusted the Suryanelli rape and the Kalluvathukkal hooch tragedy probes with the 1977-batch IPS officer.
Alongside his image of uprightness, Mathews was also closely associated with a spiritual congregation of government officials belonging to Christian community that was floated by Divine Retreat Centre of Catholic Church in Thrissur. While an IGP, he had preached the gospel at meetings of Christian officials, exhorting them to find solutions from the Bible.
In later years, the soft-spoken officer became a target of colleagues, including senior IPS officials. A fabricated complaint from a fake address was filed against him in the vigilance court in 2009 when he was serving as ADGP (intelligence). Last August, police registered a case against three persons, including K K Joshwa, in connection with the fake complaint against Mathews. He alleged that a group of junior officials, with the tacit support of senior IPS officials, had plotted against him.
In early 2011, when he had a year of service left, Mathews opted for voluntary retirement. The then CPM government made him the chief information commissioner with the backing of then Opposition leader Oommen Chandy.