Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, answering a question in the Assembly on whether a bag he forgot to carry during his 2016 Dubai trip was delivered with the help of a diplomat of the UAE Consulate, had denied the allegation.

Man handing over a document to another personM Sivasankar with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan
news CRIME Tuesday, June 28, 2022 - 15:41

A day after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan denied on the floor of the Assembly that he left a bag behind before embarking on his UAE trip in 2016, a statement by his former principal secretary and top IAS official M Sivasankar to the Customs in November 2020 contradicting the same surfaced on Tuesday, June 28. In his statement, Sivasankar had said that a bag containing gifts and mementos for dignitaries whom the CM was to meet in Dubai was sent with the help of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.

The allegation that a bag containing currency notes was sent to the UAE a day after Vijayan left Kerala surfaced early this month in a statement made by Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, before a magistrate under Section 164 (5) of the Criminal Procedure Code, for the Enforcement Directorate.

The Chief Minister on Monday, answering an unstarred question by four UDF MLAs, namely Anvar Sadath, Shafi Parambil, IC Balakrishnan and Roji M John, on whether a bag he forgot to carry during his 2016 Dubai trip was delivered with the help of a diplomat of the UAE Consulate, had denied it saying, “No baggage belonging to the CM was forgotten”.

Sivasankar, in his statement to the Customs Department on November 30, 2020, had said that the baggage in question contained mementos to be gifted to dignitaries during the CM’s visit to the UAE and could not be carried because of a delay in its delivery by Stark, the advertising agency retained by the Tourism Department. According to his statement, only one memento was ready when the delegation left and the remaining three artistic mementos had to be taken to the UAE, for which he requested the UAE Consul General’s help. To a question on who requested him to make the arrangements, Sivasankar said it was a collective decision by officers accompanying the delegation.

“The one memento which was completed was very attractive and in case the rest are also made available the possibility of taking up the offer made by the Consul General was discussed. There was no specific request or decision taken by a specific person. However, the officials accompanying the delegation were all aware of this possibility being explored, and the mementos were delivered to Smt Nalini Netto, the then Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister who had accompanied the delegation to the UAE,” Sivasankar had stated. The possibility of deputing a messenger or using an airline to deliver the materials was also explored, he said.

“In this case the mementos were also being designed by M/s Stark and they felt that it is better that one person physically carry the same and deliver it in the UAE. However, the procedure to get such permission would be cumbersome and hence it was decided that the offer of the Consul General would be most effective. If I recall rightly, the packages were handed over by M/s Stark directly to the Consulate. I only know that the same reached the delegation well in time, before even the first meeting of the Hon’ble Chief Minister happened. I don’t know how the Consulate managed to transport the mementos,” Sivasankar said in his statement.

After giving her statement under Section 164, Swapna Suresh had told the media that it was she who was entrusted with sending the bag. She said the fact that the bag contained currency notes came to light when it was screened at the UAE Consulate General’s office, where she was working then.

With the CM denying the incident in writing on Monday, and Sivasankar’s statement saying that some baggage with gifts and mementos was left behind and Swapna claiming that it contained money, the case has taken a curious turn.

(With inputs from IANS)

 

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