It was on Sunday that the customs department seized around 30 kilograms of gold from an air cargo addressed to the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.

Ramesh Chennithala speaks at an event
news Politics Tuesday, July 07, 2020 - 08:51

Kerala’s Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala demanded a CBI enquiry into the gold seized at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport from diplomatic baggage addressed to the United Arab Emirates consulate in the city. He also wanted an enquiry on its links with the office of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Chennithala said, “Media reports of links of the Chief Minister’s office with the smuggling are unprecedented and shocking. The office of Shri Pinarayi Vijayan has become a den of criminals. The Chief Minister cannot keep mum on the issue. The misuse of diplomatic immunity has international ramifications. Media has reported that a key official from the office of the Chief Minister had contacted customs officials who seized the smuggled goods, and tried to get the goods released. The Chief Minister needs to come clean on the whole issue.”

He added that this is the first time that a Kerala Chief Minister’s office is linked with ‘such a serious allegation directly’.

“Media has pointed out that M Sivasankar who is IT Secretary and Secretary to the Chief Minister is involved in the case. When I pointed out the role of IT secretary in the Sprinklr scam, the Chief Minister had diverted the issue and said that I was destroying the morale of officials. Now, what is his explanation on the smuggling issue? Now it has been clearly established that the Chief Minister's office and CM’s Secretary is involved in the gold smuggling case,” said Chennithala.

It was on Sunday that the customs department seized around 30 kilograms of gold from an air cargo baggage addressed to the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.

Bringing back the Sprinklr issue over which a High Court order had come, and the more recent allegations on the company PricewaterhouseCoopers, Chennithala said that the office of Pinarayi Vijayan ‘has become the epicentre of all scams that happened in Kerala in the recent months.’

Referring to Swapna Suresh, one of the accused in the gold smuggling case, Chennithala noted that it is ‘startling to know that a former lady employee of the UAE consulate who is reported to be the kingpin of the smuggling, along with a former PRO of the consulate, had managed to get a job in Space Park, an institution under the Information Technology department of the state government, despite facing crime branch investigation and intelligence reports against her.’

It should also be noted that she got the job through PricewaterhouseCoopers, added Chennithala.

“Can you deny if I say you have a moral responsibility in the issue?” the Opposition leader asked of the CM.

“The Chief Minister needs to clarify as to who tried to save the accused in the case. The nexus between international criminals and corrupt officials in Shri Pinarayi Vijayan’s office has now become clear. The Chief Minister owes an explanation to the state in the issue,” Chennithala added.