The Leader of Opposition in Kerala Ramesh Chennithala on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern over the gold smuggling scandal.
In his letter, Ramesh Chennithala alleges “the misuse of diplomatic immunity of the UAE Consulate, Thiruvananthapuram, by gold smuggling cartels with the collusion with officials working under the Kerala government.”
He alleged that these officials have “deep-rooted connections with decision makers at the office of the Chief Minister of Kerala,” and asked for the PM’s intervention to investigate the scandal as “it has implications on India’s national security and the potential to irreparably damage the age old friendly ties between India and the UAE.”
On Sunday, the Thiruvananthapuram customs department seized 30 kilos of gold smuggled in diplomatic baggage and via chartered flights. The smuggled gold which was cylindrical in shape and reportedly worth Rs 15 crore arrived at the airport on Friday and was seized on Sunday.
Following the scandal, it was discovered that two former employees of the Consulate Sarith Nair and Swapna Suresh are the main accused in the racket. Sarith, a former Public Relations Officer at the Consulate, would show his fake ID card to collect the diplomatic bags from the airport.
Meanwhile, Swapna has been absconding. She was serving as operations manager at the Space Park under the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITI), which comes under the state IT Department. She was suspended from the department on Monday.
The opposition leader alleged that the Kerala government had appointed Swapna Suresh without heeding ‘reports of state intelligence against her and not withstanding an investigation against her by the Crime Branch of the Kerala police.
According to reports, she allegedly had close ties with M Sivasankaran, IT Secretary who was until Tuesday serving as Secretary to the CM’s office. He was removed from the post of Secretary to the CM’s office in the wake of these allegations. Mir Mohammad Ali, Executive Director of the Suchitwa Mission has been additionally charged with the post of Secretary to CM office.
“The UAE government has condemned the misuse of diplomatic channels of their consulate in an official communique and has unequivocally affirmed that its mission and diplomatic staff have no role in it,” the opposition leader’s letter read.
He ended the letter requesting for a CBI or Enforcement Directorate investigation into the case.