Gold smuggling case: Kerala continues to witness protests demanding CM’s resignation


PTI, Jun 9, 2022, 2:07 PM IST

Thiruvananthapuram: The startling revelation by the key accused in the gold smuggling case Swapna Suresh against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family continued to keep the political pot boiling in Kerala on Thursday as opposition party activists clashed with police across the state even as the Congress continued to demand the resignation of the CM alleging that he was trying to escape the probe through ”blatant abuse of power misusing police.” The workers of the Youth Congress and Yuva Morcha, the youth outfits of the Congress and the BJP respectively, took out marches to the district collectorates in Kozhikode and Kottayam.

Police used water cannons to disperse the agitated activists, who tried to break the barricade raising slogans and holding placards and banners, in Thrissur, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram.

In Ernakulam, a group of Youth Congress activists under the aegis of the District Congress Committee (DCC), displayed symbolic models of gold biscuits and biriyani vessels and raised slogans against the Chief Minister while Mahila Congress activists conducted a protest ‘biriyani challenge’ in front of the secretariat in the state capital.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly V D Satheesan expressed hope that Vijayan would show the wisdom to resign from the top office at least now. Comparing the charges against him with the allegations faced by former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in the solar scam case, he said it was Vijayan who had recommended for a CBI probe against the Congress veteran after summoning the woman accused in the case and making her write a letter in this regard.

While serving as the state secretary of the Marxist party before becoming the CM, the same Vijayan had put out a Facebook post saying that there was no means of escape for Chandy quoting a statement of the prime accused Biju Radhakrishnan saying that he had given Rs five crore to Chandy as bribe.

Now, Swapna Suresh, the accused in the gold and dollar smuggling case, has levelled serious charges against the Chief Minister and gave a statement before the court, he pointed out.

”However, instead of stepping down as chief minister after announcing that a fair probe should be conducted in the case, Pinarayi Vijayan is trying to scuttle the investigation, destroy evidence and escape through blatant abuse of power misusing police,” he said.

However, LDF MLA and former minister K T Jaleel, on whose complaint the police had registered a case against Suresh, reiterated that Suresh was a person who had been in jail for one and half years in the case and what she was saying against him and the Chief Minister and his family were ”blatant lies.” Noting that the Congress and BJP’s attempt to tarnish the image of good politicians before the public was not going to yield any result, he also urged the media not to give the allegations of an accused as factual reports without the backing of any evidence.

Jaleel said any central agency can probe the charges against him and the chief minister and claimed that nothing suspicious could be found if they do so for a thousand years.

Meanwhile, senior politician P C George, who had claimed that he had the copy of a letter written by Suresh detailing the charges against the Chief Minister, said he did not understand why a case was registered against him along with Suresh based on the complaint of Jaleel which demanded a probe into the alleged conspiracy behind the new revelations.

BJP state chief K Surendran termed Vijayan as a ”coward” for registering the case against George and said the decision was condemnable.

A probe should be carried out against the startling revelations by Suresh, he added.

Police on Wednesday said the case has been registered against Suresh and George under different sections of the Indian Penal Code including ”criminal conspiracy” after receiving legal advice from the Deputy Director of Prosecution. A Special Investigation Team led by a senior police official will probe the case, they said. Triggering a political turmoil in the state, Suresh on Tuesday claimed that she disclosed before the court — in her statement under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code — the other people allegedly involved in the smuggling cases and their ”degrees of involvement.” She said she had given statements against the CM, his family, Jaleel and some other top bureaucrats. After her revelations before the media, subsequent to recording her Section 164 statement, Vijayan had issued a statement dismissing Suresh’s claims and allegations as ”baseless”.

Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was taken into custody by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) along with another accused Sandeep Nair from Bengaluru on July 11, 2020.

The NIA, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Customs conducted separate probes into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold worth Rs 15 crore from the diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5, 2020.

Several people, including M Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and another ex-employee of the UAE Consulate here, Sarith, were arrested in connection with the case.

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