Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan answered questions on action against IAS official Sivasankar, gold smuggling case and more.

Pinarayi Vijayan with mask on chin sits in front of a microphone
news Controversy Tuesday, July 14, 2020 - 07:57

As repeated questions came on M Sivasankar, the IAS official who was recently removed from crucial posts under the Kerala government, the Chief Minister kept saying, “What more can be done at this point?”

Sivasankar’s name cropped up in connection with an accused in the controversial gold smuggling case of Kerala, Swapna Suresh, after which he was removed both as principal secretary of the IT Department as well as secretary to the CM’s office. Journalists wanted to know why no further action was taken against him, why he was not suspended. While the government has said it will probe whether Swapna had faked her educational qualification, questions have also been raised whether she was given a contract job with the Kerala government through an agency at Sivasankar's behest.

“What reason can we suspend him for now? The matters are being investigated now and once their findings based on facts are out, further action can be taken. It does not depend on my faith in the person or what some people have to say. It will be based on facts. When his connection to the woman brought about an embarrassing situation, he was removed from office,” CM Pinarayi said.

Chief Secretary and Finance Chief Secretary have been given the responsibility of finding out if there was any misappropriation in the appointment of Swapna Suresh.

The UDF-led Opposition announced earlier in the day that they would move a no-confidence motion against the state government as part of their ongoing protest demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister as well as the Assembly speaker Sivaramakrishnan. The latter had taken part in an inaugural function of a start-up by another accused in the case, Sandeep Nair.

“There is no justice in dragging the Speaker's name into this only because he took part in an event. At that point, there was no controversy concerning this person,” CM Pinarayi said.

On Swapna’s ‘escape to Bengaluru’

He also answered questions on how Swapna ‘managed to escape to Bengaluru’ from Thiruvananthapuram, at a time there was a lockdown in several parts of the state.

“The answers are there in the various media reports that all of you, asking this, have published. On July 6, a prominent media published that Swapna left town two days ago, as proved by CCTV visuals. The triple lockdown in Thiruvananthapuram was announced on July 6. Another important media had telecast the news that you don’t need to register on Kerala’s Covid Jagratha portal if you need to go to another state. You only need to follow the protocol of the destination state. If it is Karnataka, there is the Seva Sindhu app, the report said. So you know all the answers,” the CM said.

He added, “The Centre had relaxed lockdown rules and avoided the need for border checks. In Kerala, we still check everyone who comes into the state for COVID-19 control purposes. But we don’t know what the other states do.”

As of now, Swapna and Sandeep are in the custody of the National Investigative Agency (NIA). When further questions came about the direction in which the NIA investigation went, the CM asked why one should be so prejudiced already. “Let them do their work, let them investigate. Give them some time to bring out their findings. They have now suggested terrorism links, and there is more to come out. Let all the big sharks fall. If it comes to my office, let it come,” CM Pinarayi said.

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