Gold Smuggling Case Returns to Haunt Ruling LDF; CM Rejects Prime Accused’s Allegations

The sensational gold smuggling case that had rocked Kerala before the Assembly polls last year has returned to haunt the ruling LDF with prime accused in the case, Swapna Suresh, on Tuesday levelling certain allegations against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, his family members and some top bureaucrats. While the Chief Minister dismissed as “baseless,” Suresh’s allegations of some sort of smuggling activities against him and the others, main opposition Congress demanded his resignation from the state’s top post.

The BJP too said that Vijayan has lost the moral right to continue as the chief minister of the state. The CPI(M) and the party-led LDF issued statements strongly defending Vijayan. The Left alleged “political conspiracy” to tarnish the image of Vijayan-led government behind Sruesh’s allegations. It all started when Suresh, after appearing before a magistrate court in Kochi, dropped a bombshell claiming she has given a statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure narrating the role of CM, some of his family members and top bureaucrats in various smuggling activities.

Strongly reacting to the allegations, the Chief Minister, in a statement, said “unsubstantiated allegations have been made through the media from some quarters for narrow political reasons” and this was “part of some political agenda”. “Such agenda were rejected by the people earlier. After a break, the old things are repeated by the accused in the case. There is not even a shred of fact in it”, Vijayan said.

He said if those raising such allegations think that the will of his government and its political leadership can be shattered by spreading lies again, it will not succeed. “The people will realise the facts and reject the baseless propaganda aimed at discrediting the Left Democratic Front government which is working for the overall development and social welfare of Kerala,” the CM said.

Meanwhile, the opposition sharpened its attack against Vijayan, seeking his resignation as chief minister in view of the “shocking revelations” made by Suresh against him. Referring to the investigation carried out by the central agencies earlier into the gold smuggling case, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, V D Satheesan, alleged the probe came to a halt after Suresh gave similar statement to the Customs and it was due to the unholy nexus between the CPI(M) and the ruling BJP at the Centre.

The Congress leader said a court-monitored investigation should be carried out in view of the latest revelation of Suresh. KPCC chief K Sudhakaran also made a similar demand, claiming people have lost faith in the central agencies’ probe into the case. As the issue snowballed into a big political row, activists of the Youth Congress and the BJP’s Yuva Morcha held marches separately to the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram.

Police resorted to water cannons to disperse the agitating Youth Congress workers who were raising slogans against Vijayan. They also burnt the effigy of the chief minister. In their statements, both the CPI(M) and the LDF alleged conspiracy to defame Vijayan and the state government behind the revelations of Suresh. Strongly defending the chief minister, the Left said the people will reject the allegations as was done during the 2021 Assembly elections.

After giving a statement before the Magistrate on Monday, Suresh had said there was a threat to her life and therefore, she was going to disclose all the facts related to the case before the court. Suresh had said she had more to say about the gold smuggling case and the people involved in it.

She was released from jail in November last year, 16 months after her arrest in the sensational gold smuggling case. 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 probe 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 P S, were arrested in connection with the case.

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