Kerala gold smuggling scandal: CM Vijayan faces heat as protesters rage
Protests marred many areas of Kerala as the opposition demanded resignation of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling case.
The Customs department had seized 30 kg gold from an air cargo consignment from the United Arab Emirates to the country’s consulate in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday. Swapna Suresh, who was working as the operational manager of the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited under the state IT Ministry, had gone underground after the seizure. Later, the CM had transferred his principal secretary M Sivasankar who was close to Suresh.
In Kozhikode, many people were hurt after police resorted to baton charge on agitating Youth League workers. In Kochi too, Yuva Morcha protest turned violent. In Kannur, police lobbed teargas shells to control protesters.
Youth Congress workers held a protest rally outside CM Vijayan’s ancestral house in Kannur.
Bail plea of alleged mastermind Suresh which was to come up in before the Kerala High Court today has been deferred to Tuesday. On Thursday, the Centre handed over the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) after VIjayan petitioned the government saying the state was ready for any probe.
Despite the CPI(M) and coalition rallying around the CM, many party insiders say the latest incident has dented the image of the government when the elections are just 10 months away.
The issue took a political colour after the main accused was reported to be very close to many higher ups in the state government. Vijayan’s principal secretary M Sivasankar, a senior IAS official, has already been transferred.
Some of the allies of ruling dispensation have started airing their displeasure against the way Vijayan protected former principal secretary M Sivasankar. Junior partner the CPI said it warned him about the “freestyle” of his secretary several times but the CM ignored them. It said the CM’s favourite trouble shooter has started giving him enough trouble now.