Arun Balachandran was removed from the post of the CM’s IT Fellow for allegedly helping second accused Swapna Suresh in booking an apartment.

Arun Balachandran, who was removed from CM's IT Fellow post, is seen standing at a podium. He is seen wearing a navy blue blazer.
news Kerala Gold Smuggling Monday, July 20, 2020 - 17:01

Days after Arun Balachandran was removed as the Kerala Chief Minister’s IT Fellow, the state government removed him from the Execution Committee of its ‘Dream Kerala’ project for returning non-resident Indians (NRIs).

Arun was removed as the IT Fellow for helping gold smuggling case second accused Swapna Suresh in booking an apartment, where the plans related to smuggling gold were allegedly hatched.

“As part of the Dream Kerala project, Arun Kumar was included in the Executive Committee since he was the CM’s IT Fellow. Since he has been removed from the post of IT Fellow, Arun Balachandran is being removed from the execution committee of Dream Kerala,” read the order issued by Kerala Joint Secretary Janardhanan K on Monday.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had announced the Dream Kerala project in early July. The project aims to support and create job opportunities for the NRIs returning to Kerala due to job loss. The project will help the team understand how to use their skillsets for the growth of the state.

Arun was the third official who was sacked from a post in the Kerala government for their alleged involvement or association with the accused in the controversial gold smuggling case. M Sivasankar was removed from the post of Principal Secretary to the CM and the IT Secretary for his association with Swapna. He was removed from the posts days after PS Sarith, the first accused in the case, was apprehended.

Swapna, too, was removed from a contract-based post she had held in the IT Department’s Space Park.

Arun, along with three others, were appointed as the CM’s IT Fellows to promote Kerala as an investment destination. He was removed from the post on July 15, after a WhatsApp chat between Arun and Sivasankar surfaced. In the chat, Sivasankar had allegedly sent him the requirements for the apartment.

According to reports, Sivasankar allegedly wanted a two-bedroom service apartment for a few people, for six days from 31st, without mentioning the month. The former IAS officer also allegedly specified that it was a temporary arrangement as they were shifting from their house.

It is alleged that Swapna and others allegedly used this apartment, located near the Kerala Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, to make plans for smuggling gold. The Customs Department had raided the apartment last week. 

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