Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stepped up his tirade against the Enforcement Directorate on Monday as a third case was registered by the Crime Branch against the Enforcement Directorate in the state. The move comes after Kerala earlier filed two cases and announced a judicial probe against the central agency.
Pinarayi on Friday decided to order a judicial probe against the ED following a complaint by two women Kerala police officials who said that they heard officers of the central agency allegedly putting pressure on gold smuggling case prime accused Swapna Suresh and asking her loaded questions, so as to implicate the Chief Minister.
Ahead of the announcement of the judicial probe, the Crime Branch had registered two cases against the ED. On Monday, the Crime Branch registered another case based on the statement of Sandeep Nair, an accused in the gold smuggling case, that he was pressured by ED officials to name Pinarayi. While the previous two cases were registered at Kochi, the new case was registered at Alappuzha.
The move comes a few days after ED officials approached the Kerala High Court to quash the FIR registered against them and sought a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the issue. With days left until the April 6 Assembly polls, several Union Ministers who have arrived in Kerala to campaign, have slammed Vijayan and raised questions on the controversial gold smuggling case.
Meanwhile, the Congress on Monday alleged an ‘understanding’ between the BJP-led NDA and Left Democratic Front (LDF) governments due to which no First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against the CM, three of his cabinet colleagues and the Assembly speaker in the gold smuggling case.
The case has landed on the door of Pinarayi Vijayan, All India Congress Committee general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said. “Not only the CM, but three of his cabinet colleagues and the Speaker have been named by Swapna Suresh, the key accused in the case,” he said and pointed out that the former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister was arrested by the probe agencies.
"But Prime minister Narendra Modi and his government have not registered an FIR against the CM in the gold smuggling case nor have they acted against him," Surjewala told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
He also wanted to know what special relationship Pinarayi enjoyed with Modi which prevented central agencies like the ED from initiating action against the CM, his three ministers and Speaker. There seems to be a nexus between the CPI(M) and the BJP, he alleged.
The gold smuggling case relates to the seizure of about 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crore from diplomatic baggage at Thiruvananthapuram International airport in July 2020, which is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate, Customs, and the National Investigation Agency.M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the CM, now under suspension, was arrested in connection with the case and is on bail.
(With IANS and PTI inputs)