Thiruvananthapuram: The office of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in increasingly coming under fire in the 30 kg gold smuggling case involving the former PRO of the UAE consulate and a woman.
On Tuesday senior IAS officer and secretary to Vijayan, M. Sivasankar was removed from office.
M. Sivasankar is currently in the dock and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding a probe by the CBI or Enforcement Directorate (ED) to unravel the gold smuggling case, where the name of the UAE Consulate also figures.
“I write this letter as Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly with utmost concern at the misuse of diplomatic immunity of UAE Consulate, here by international gold smuggling cartels with the collusion of officials working under Government of Kerala who have deep rooted connections with decision makers at the office of Chief Minister. I solicit your immediate intervention to investigate into his nefarious act, which has serious implications on India’s national security and the potential to irreparably damage the age old friendly ties between India and the UAE. In this contest I request an investigation into the matter by agencies like CBI and the ED,” said Chennithala.
Later speaking to the media Chennithala said Vijayan now fears that fingers are being pointed at him and hence he has made his secretary the scapegoat.
Chennithala’s demand came soon after Sivasankar was removed as the CM’s secretary and later applied for long leave. However, he has not been removed from the post of IT secretary.
Vijayan apart from holding the Home portfolio also heads the IT department.
CPI-M State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said wrongdoers will not be protected and every aspect will be looked into.
Vijayan reacted on Monday denying any involvement in the case and rubbished remarks on the involvement of his office.
The CPI-M and the Left Front are shocked at the turn of events while the Congress and the BJP have taken to the streets across the state demanding the resignation of Vijayan.
On Tuesday, Vijayan was closeted with the state police chief and the chief secretary.
What has stung many is the way a woman Swapna Suresh has made inroads into the seat of power.
She was earlier working with Air India’s ground handling agency after which she joined the UAE Consulate here. Here she came in touch with its PRO Sarith who is currently under arrest in the gold smuggling case, while Swapna is on the run.
Sarith and Swapna are now no longer with the UAE Consulate.
Various reports have come out that Swapna and Sivasankar were good friends and he was a regular visitor at her house. It was through these contacts that she got a plush job in the IT department which is looked after by Vijayan and Sivasankar.
“Just look at her salary, it’s mind boggling. What sort of interview or test was done to recruit her in the IT department, when she is only an ordinary graduate and one does not know what her experience is. It’s a shame on what we are seeing in Kerala which involves links with smugglers,” said former State Minister and senior RSP leader Shibhu Baby John.
Senior BJP leader P.K. Krishnadas came down heavily on Vijayan and said he is continuing to protect Sivasankar.
“Sivasankar is only removed as Vijayan’s secretary, while he continues to hold the IT secretary post and this is because he is getting lot of support from Vijayan’s daughter (who has an IT firm). The Special Branch police had informed Vijayan about Swapna’s not too clean record as she had a case against her, but all this was overlooked and she was appointed in a high paying job with practically no qualifications for such a job,” Krishnadas.
The UAE consulate, however, denied any involvement of its personnel in this case and said that the person who is in custody was dismissed from the consulate much earlier.
On Sunday, the Air Customs attached to the Thiruvananthapuram airport had made a seizure of 30 kg of gold that arrived on a cargo flight and was kept in a warehouse here for release. The baggage had arrived from Dubai and is understood to have been marked to the UAE Consulate which has its office in the heart of the city.