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On Tuesday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reportedly gave a clean chit to the State government from any involvement in the high-profile gold smuggling and had instead passed on the blame to the Centre. He stated that the parcel carrying smuggled gold was not received by any agency of the State government. He pointed out that the said parcel came to the UAE consulate and that the Kerala government had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
How can the Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case anyway be related to state govt? The parcel didn’t come to any of the state govt agency, it came for UAE Consulate. If there is any failure, how can state govt be responsible? State govt has no role: Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan pic.twitter.com/sEbgT8fBwa
— ANI (@ANI) July 7, 2020
Pinarayi Vijayan alleged that since the airports and its facilities are controlled by the Union government and that the parcel was seized by the Customs department, therefore, it was the responsibility of the Centre and not the State Government. The Kerala Chief Minister had received social media backlash after an image of him with one of the kingpins of the gold smuggling syndicate, namely, Swapna Suresh, went viral.
Pinarayi Vijayan claimed that the said woman had no connection with the Information Technology (IT) Department or the Chief Minister’s Office. “This woman was working as a Marketing Manager for a project under the IT Dept as a contract employee. She was taken through a placement agency.”
The woman in question in Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case has no connection with CMO or IT Dept. This woman was working as Marketing Manager for a project under IT Dept as a contract employee. She was taken through a placement agency: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan
— ANI (@ANI) July 7, 2020
Principal Secretary to Pinarayi Vijayan removed
On Tuesday, the Kerala government had removed M Sivasankar as the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister after his name surfaced in a high-profile gold smuggling case related to the UAE embassy in the capital of Kerala. He has now been replaced by IAS Mir Mohammad Ali. As per reports, Sivasankar was also removed as the IT secretary.
Reportedly, Sivasankar is accused of making calls to the customs department to get clearance for a ‘diplomatic package’ that was smuggling 30-kg of gold. He has also been accused, by both the Congress and the BJP, for protecting one of the kingpins of the gold smuggling syndicate, namely, Swapna Suresh. Swapna Suresh’s diplomatic baggage with smuggled gold was held at the Thiruvananthapuram airport.
Swapna Suresh was misusing ‘diplomatic immunity’
Custom officials in Kerala had earlier nabbed a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Kerala named Sarith where he had divulged that Suresh, also a former staffer, had forged documents to misuse diplomatic privileges. Suresh’s baggage, marked with the address of the UAE Consulate was held at the airport on July 5. Swapna Suresh was working as the marketing liaison officer Space Park under the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) that comes directly under the IT department.