Tuesday, July 07, 2020

In Kerala Gold Smuggling Case, Opposition Targets Chief Minister's Office

Thiruvananthapuram: A senior IAS officer has been been removed from Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's office hours after the opposition parties in the state targeted Mr Vijayan, alleging that his office attempted to shield an employee in a gold smuggling case reported last week.
The employee's contract stands suspended by the state government after alleged links to the smuggling of 30 kg of gold seized by the Customs department on July 4. The Chief Minister, however, had denied these allegations. The gold, which was a part of a diplomatic consignment, had arrived at the Thiruvananthapuram airport.

Sarith Kumar, an accused in the case and a former public relations officer (PRO) of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram, has been remanded for 14 days in the case after he was arrested on Monday. However, sources in the Customs department have confirmed that another woman - Swapna Suresh - is also being seen as a "person of interest" and is among those who staked claim over the baggage.

Swapna Suresh was also a former employee at the UAE Consulate; she was also a liaisoning officer for one of the firms linked to the Information Technology department of Kerala government. "The contract of the concerned person has been terminated since the serious allegations emerged," sources at the Chief Minister's Office confirmed to NDTV.

Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala has sought for a CBI probe in the smuggling case, alleging connections between the accused and Kerala's IT Principal Secretary M Sivasankar. He was removed this morning from the post of secretary to the Chief Minister. Later during the day, a new IT secretary was appointed, as Mr Sivasankar was relieved of his post on account of a long leave.
07/07/20 Sneha Mary Koshy/NDTV
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