Main accused in Kerala gold smuggling racket moves HC for anticipatory bail
In an audio tape, Swapna Suresh claimed that she had called the Customs to release the consignment after she was asked by the UAE consular office in Thiruvananthapuram.Updated: Jul 09, 2020 19:29 IST
The ruling CPI(M) in Kerala on Thursday asked the Union Government to speed up the probe into the gold smuggling racket even as the main accused Swapna Suresh moved the High Court for anticipatory bail.
“Some people are creating a smoke screen to target the state government. We have nothing to hide. The CM had sent a letter to the Prime Minister saying the state is ready for any probe. But it is getting delayed. We suspect delay is aimed at embarrassing the government,” said LDF convenor V S Vijayaraghavan.
He said the state has scaled many heights in the fight against the Covoid-19 pandemic and the opposition Congress and BJP were worried over its growing popularity.
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.
Amid the controversy Suresh sent an audio tape to a news channel on Thursday claiming that there was a concerted move to target the government ahead of the assembly elections next year and she had been made a scapegoat. She also claimed that she made a call to the Customs to release the consignment after she was asked by the UAE consular office. She also said she feared for her life.
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 case has surfaced at a bad time for chief minister Vijayan who is known for his tough postures. Many political pundits had predicted an easy re-election fuelled by records in fighting the pandemic.
Since the 1970s, no government has returned to power for a second successive term in Kerala but Vijayan was tipped to break that record until the gold smuggling racket blew up leading analysts to draw parallel with the 2013 solar scandal in which a woman allegedly cheated many by flaunting her connections.
“If something serious happens in his office the CM is responsible for this,” Vijayan’s words during the solar scandal, has returned to haunt him. Social media activists have gone on overdrive reproducing some of his fiery speeches cornering his predecessor Oommen Chandy.
“This has a familiar ring to the solar scandal that routed the ruling UDF in 2016. A scandal is a scandal and whether there is substance in the allegations is electorally irrelevant. That is the history of the state,” said senior journalist and political observer John Mary.
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.