Crucial time for Vijayan as NIA begins questioning ex-secy

Thiruvananthapuram: Crucial days lie ahead for Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as his former principal secretary and ex-Kerala IT secretary M. Sivasankar presented himself before the NIA on Thursday evening in the sensational gold smuggling case.

The Customs department which began the probe in the case last week had questioned Sivasankar for over nine hours.

The gold smuggling case which has large scale political ramifications, first surfaced when P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE consulate here, was arrested by the Customs on July 5 when he was facilitating smuggling of 30 kgs of gold in diplomatic baggage to Thiruvananthapuram from Dubai.

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It turned murkier when the name of Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE consulate and employed with the state IT Department, surfaced. The case turned full circle when their links with senior IAS official Sivasankar, who has been suspended and booted out from two key posts, were unearthed.

On Wednesday the NIA had completed a joint questioning session with the three arrested – Sarith, Swapna and Sandip Nair and it was only a matter of time when Sivasankar was told to appear.

Though Vijayan has been trying to wash his hands off Sivasankar as his stock statement has been “None will be spared, whosoever he is.”

With the news of Sivasankar appearing before the NIA, state BJP president K. Surendran said that the time is up for Vijayan and he must quit.

“With each passing moment of you sticking to your post, you are challenging the basic principle of democracy. The country is expecting that you would show the example of resigning as that’s what is expected to uphold the political morality,” wrote Surendran on Facebook.

But young Congress legislator K.S. Sabarinath said all know what Vijayan will say now and it will be his routine reaction – “those who have done wrong will not be protected or spared,” and added that the visuals what one saw is the most shameful scenes of the most powerful official appearing before the NIA.

Earlier in the day the NIA officials served Sivasankar a notice at his residence here, asking him to appear before them.

Around 3.55 pm, arriving in his personal car he reached the Police Club and when newsmen asked him if it was the NIA or the Customs, he walked away without saying anything.

CPI-M legislator A.M. Shamseer said this was expected and the CM had made his position clear.

“I don’t find anything wrong in the questioning and the NIA is doing their duty. It’s only natural that the opposition will cry for the resignation of the CM, as it’s common in politics,” said Shamseer.

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