Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan moves resolution against Centre's farm laws in the special session of State Assembly, in Thiruvananthapuram.(ANI)
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan moves resolution against Centre's farm laws in the special session of State Assembly, in Thiruvananthapuram.(ANI)

Central agencies threatening our officials, says Kerala CM, Customs deny charge

  • Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan put Customs in his line of fire over the investigation into the gold smuggling case.
PUBLISHED ON JAN 20, 2021 06:55 PM IST

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday accused central agencies of threatening and forcing state government officials to toe their line in the gold smuggling case and said that chief secretary Viswas Mehta has written to the Union Government about this.

Replying to a question in the state assembly he said the assistant protocol officer who appeared before the Customs in connection with the gold smuggling case had complained that he was threatened to be implicated in the case and “forced to give a statement in a particular fashion.” He said the chief secretary had sent a letter to the Union Government describing “the bitter experience the assistant protocol officer was meted out by the Customs”.

“State assistant protocol officer M S Harikrishnan had appeared before the Customs on January 5 following summons issued to him. On January 7 he sent a complaint to the chief secretary saying officials misbehaved with him and threatened to implicate him in the case. We condemn this irresponsible attitude,” said the CM while replying to a question by ruling party legislator V Joy.

He said central agencies cannot intimidate government officials and demoralise them. Vijayan said the state was keen to ensure that there is no repeat of such incidents and it was duty-bound to protect its officials. “We can’t tolerate such indecent and immature behaviour” he said.

The government had earlier raised a similar allegation against the Enforcement Directorate. Vijayan even wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to rein in central agencies alleging they were tarnishing the image of the government.

The Customs denied the CM’s allegations. “We cannot conduct our investigation as per the directive of the state government. We have recorded all questioning sessions. These allegations are aimed at obstructing the ongoing investigation into the gold smuggling case,” said a senior official of the Customs.

He said the Customs was yet to give a clean chit to state minister K T Jaleel and it will summon Speaker P Sivaramakrishnan next week.

After the gold smuggling case surfaced in July, there were reports linking the main accused Swapna Suresh with the Speaker. He later acknowledged that he knew Suresh as an employee of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consulate and attended some functions on her invitation. But opposition Congress and BJP leaders alleged that it was more than an ‘official relationship’ and Sreeramakrishnan had travelled with Suresh several times to West Asian countries.

They also alleged the accused smuggled US dollars to the Gulf countries using Sreeramakrishnan’s green channel access. The Speaker had denied these allegations and said he was ready for any probe.

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