Kerala smuggling case: Suspect woman claims she obeyed diplomat’s orders

She has denied any connection with the Kerala CMO and alleged that she was a victim of media trial

Gold
Joint Commissioner Aniesh P Rajan received his transfer order on Thursday | Representative Photo: iStock

Swapna Suresh, a former employee at the UAE Consulate General whose alleged role in the recent gold smuggling case has sparked a controversy, has claimed in her anticipatory bail plea in the Kerala High Court that she had only followed instructions from the Consul General, and that too nothing discreet, but via email and phone.

The case pertains to the seizure of 30 kg gold from a diplomatic baggage at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5. Swapna, the operations manager with Space Park PMU of Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited, whose name surfaced in the case in media, was soon sacked.

In her bail petition, submitted online late Wednesday (July 8) night, Swapna claimed she used to assist the Consulate General on demand even after she had resigned from the Consulate office. She has denied any connection with the Kerala Chief Minister’s Office and alleged she was a victim of media trial.

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Rashid Khamis Al Sheimeili, the present in-charge of the Consulate General of the UAE, had repeatedly asked her to check with Customs officials regarding the delay of his consignment, which had reached the cargo complex, the plea said. She also prepared a letter to the Customs office as per Sheimeili’s direction, it said.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the present Consul General had flown back to the UAE in April, and Sheimeili was appointed as the in-charge of the Consulate.

The Customs authorities requested the acting Consul General to appear for opening the cargo on July 5, which he did along with a senior official of the High Commissioner of Delhi. The opening of the cargo at the Cargo Complex revealed the concealed 30 kg gold consignment.

Related news: Diplomatic link to gold seizure triggers high political drama in Kerala

In her bail petition, Swapna argued that all she had all done was to contact the Assistant Commissioner of Customs as per the instructions of the Consul General. She also denied the allegations of complicity in the illegal passage of the consignment, and that of her connection with the CMO.

Swapna had worked in the Consulate since 2016, and after resigning from the position of the Secretary to the office of the Consulate General in September 2019, she had joined the PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd. However, the Consul General continued seeking her service for administrative matters even after that, the plea said.

After her resignation from the Consulate office, she was issued a certificate of appreciation that recognised her as the best employee in the 50-member office. She was sacked from PricewaterhouseCoopers Ltd, where she worked for their space park project under the state’s IT department, after her name surfaced in the media in the smuggling case.

Related news: Gold smuggling case: Kerala CM’s Secretary Sivasankar removed

Swapna further argued that the on-going media trial, exhibiting her photographs, is a clear violation of the settled legal position of the Supreme Court. She said that she had acted only upon the instructions from the acting Consul General, and that there’s no reason for her to be interrogated in custody in this case.

Meanwhile, the claims made in her bail plea has now triggered a new set of controversy, thus shifting the focus from the CMO to that of the Consulate General and the related offices. Her argument that she had acted only upon the Consul General’s instructions now raises several questions concerning the diplomatic ties between India and the UAE.

A purported voice clip of Swapna has also been sent to television channels, in which she is heard repeatedly claiming innocence in the smuggling case. She further claims, in the voice clip, that she has no unholy connections with any of the high-level officers and that she had only acted upon the instructions of the Consul General.

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