Gold smuggling: Swapna Suresh’s claim about CMO kicks up row

Suresh claimed that the video where she had said there was pressure upon her to say the name of the Chief Minister in the smuggling case, was a pre-scripted one

Swapna Suresh
Suresh had told the media on Friday that the message was recorded in a mobile phone handed over to her via a woman police constable

The sensational disclosure by gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh has triggered a political row in Kerala, as opposition parties on Saturday charged that the Chief Minister’s office was aware of the alleged smuggling of the yellow metal through the diplomatic channel and even critical intelligence inputs were misused for “anti-national activities”.

A day after Suresh, a prime accused who was recently released on bail, gave a series of interviews to television channels.

Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly V D Satheesan accused Chief Minister Pinarayi’s office of intervening to get the illegal baggage released and helping the accused to leave the state.

Satheesan sought a probe into the significant revelation by Suresh that an audio clip by her, circulated at a time when she was jailed, claiming that there was pressure upon her to say the name of the Chief Minister in the smuggling case, was a pre-scripted one.

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Suresh had told the media on Friday that it was recorded in a mobile phone handed over to her via a woman police constable, when she was in the custody of Enforcement Directorate and alleged that M Sivasankar, the CM’s former principal secretary and an accused in the case, was behind the incident.

“It has now become clear the voice clip, circulated in her name saying the CM has no role in the case, was a scripted one. It was done by misusing the police force in the state with the knowledge of the top officers,” Satheesan told reporters in Kochi.

Also read: Sivasankar’s book Ashwathama triggers new row on need for govt approval

“The conspiracy behind the incident should be probed,” the senior Congress leader urged, adding that the perpetrators who had actually planned and executed it should be exposed.

Alleging that even intelligence reports were misused by the CMO during the previous Vijayan government’s tenure, Satheesan said that all the truths hidden by the accused were now coming to the surface one by one.

“It has now become clear that even intelligence reports were misused by the Chief Ministers office. They misused the critical information for anti-national activities and economic corruption,” Satheesan added.

The Leader of Opposition also said that he would like to know what the Chief Minister has to say on the new developments.

Meanwhile, BJP state chief K Surendran said that the revelations of Suresh made it clear that all the allegations raised by his party against the CMO in connection with the smuggling case were true.

Surendran reiterated his charge that Sivasankar had called a top Customs official to get clearance for the illegal baggage.

“He asked the customs official to release the baggage as it was a matter of interest to the CM. We also said then itself that it was Sivasankar who helped Suresh to flee to Bengaluru and the purported voice clip by her justifying the government was a fabricated one,” the BJP leader said. “Now, the accused herself revealed everything before TV channels,” he added.

Suresh, a prime accused in the sensational Kerala gold smuggling case, on Friday criticised Sivasankar, the IAS officer, for allegedly mentioning her name in his new book, claiming that she was “already a victim.”

A day after Sivasankar announced an autobiographical book narrating his version on the controversial episode, Suresh came out against the senior IAS officer, accusing him of “manipulating, exploiting and destroying” her life.

Suresh, who was released from jail a few months ago after securing bail following her arrest by central agencies in July 2020 in connection with the case of smuggling gold through diplomatic channel, slammed Sivasankar for claiming that she cheated him by gifting a mobile phone she received as bribe.

Sivasankar has been keeping away from media glare even after he was re-inducted into the service on January 4 after a year-long suspension.

According to excerpts from his book released by television channels, the senior bureaucrat who was arrested in the case in 2020 has rejected all the charges levelled against him by the central agencies.

Sivasankar, in the book, claimed that he had made no illegal intervention in the gold smuggling incident and never did any undue favours for Suresh. The officer, in the book, claimed that he was shell-shocked to know that Suresh, who was his close friend for three years, was a participant in smuggling.

Also read: ‘CM was the real target’: Kerala top bureaucrat named in gold smuggling case in new book 

Sivasankar, who was Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s former principal secretary and also former IT Secretary, was suspended from service after his links with Suresh surfaced.

The gold smuggling case relates to the seizure of 30 kg of gold on July 5, 2020 from a diplomatic baggage at the air cargo of the Trivandrum International Airport by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Kochi. The consignment was found camouflaged in diplomatic baggage from the UAE that is exempted from inspection, in accordance with the Vienna Convention.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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