Kerala Customs Department Joint Commissioner Aneesh P Rajan has been transferred from Kochi to Nagpur. The transfer comes after protests erupted in the state against the senior customs official alleging that he was supporting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, after the accused in the sensational Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling scam were arrested.
In early July, when the gold smuggling case first came to light, several allegations had cropped up against key officials in the Kerala Chief Minister's office of having links with people accused in the case. However, when questioned by the media earlier, Aneesh Rajan had categorically stated that the customs office had received no calls from the CM's office. He said this even after the accused persons in the case were taken into custody.
Aneesh's statement triggered a row, following which his political affiliations were dug out by critics and opposition parties. According to reports, the senior customs officer's brother was a CPI(M) councillor.
Aneesh's Facebook posts which allegedly supported the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala were also highlighted by the opposition. BJP state president K Surendran and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala also alleged that the official was trying to shield the Pinaryi Vijayan government.
After receiving a letter listing out allegations against the senior customs officer, the department initiated an inquiry into the allegations, which resulted in his transfer. An order confirming Aneesh's transfer was issued on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Customs also summoned Hariraj, a member of the Air Cargo Association, for questioning at its Kochi office. This will be the second time that Hariraj has been questioned by the Customs department. He had allegedly intervened in getting the bag released from Customs and also threatened officers who had decided to open and inspect the diplomatic bag in which 30 kilograms of smuggled gold was seized.