'Kerala govt not involved, airports under Centre’: CM Pinarayi on gold smuggling case

Pinarayi said Sivasankar IAS was removed from his post after media reports claimed he was close to a suspect.
'Kerala govt not involved, airports under Centre’: CM Pinarayi on gold smuggling case
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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan broke his silence on the gold smuggling case which has hogged the headlines in Kerala. The Chief Minister said that the state government had nothing to do with the case, and that the responsibility to investigate wholly lay with the Centre.

A gold smuggling racket was exposed on Sunday, when customs officials at the Thiruvananthapuram airport found 30 kilograms of gold hidden in a diplomatic bag. The bag was addressed to the wife of a UAE diplomat residing in Thiruvananthapuram and was reportedly couriered from the UAE government. 

Following this, Swapna Suresh and Sarith Kumar, two Indians who were working at the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram have been named accused in the case.

Allegations of a nexus with top officials in the Kerala CM’s office have also been doing the rounds. 

On Tuesday, the Chief Minister explained that the airport was under the purview of the Centre, including the Customs Department. 

“The state government only knows as much as what the public knows in this. The parcel was not for any state government agency. It was addressed to the UAE Consulate. It has been handed over with a letter by the UAE Consulate. How can the state government answer the shortcoming here?” Pinarayi asked. 

The prime accused in the racket has been identified as Swapna Suresh. She worked as a contract staff at the Space Park under the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITI), which comes under the IT Department. The chairperson of the Space Park is M Sivasankar, a top bureaucrat who also served as the IT Secretary and Principal Secretary to the Kerala CM. He was removed from his position on Tuesday.

“The woman in question was not hired directly by the state government, but through placement agencies. The reality is that IT departments have several projects where employees are hired on contract basis. With regard to her work in the Kerala government, there have been no complaints. It is true that smuggling has taken place. But how is the state government involved in that?” Pinarayi asked. 

Removing M Sivasankar from posts 

Chief Minister Pinarayi confirmed that IT secretary Sivasankar was removed from his two posts after public allegations surfaced linking him to Swapna. 

“This doesn’t mean that they are lawful or legal allegations, but when public allegations surface against a person, it is not right to have that person in the Chief Minister’s office and hence we took the step,” the CM stated. 

Pinarayi added that the issue was an attempt to taint or portray the state government in a negative light. a

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