In a crucial update in the sensational Kerala gold smuggling case, senior IAS officer M Sivasankar was summoned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday and was quizzed at the Thiruvananthapuram police club at Peroorkada. The senior IAS officer was recently suspended from service by the Kerala government following allegations that he was closely associated with some of the accused in the case.
Visuals of M Sivasankar entering the police club in Thiruvananthapuram were aired by Malayalam news channels on Thursday evening. He reached the police club by around 4 pm. According to reports, Sivasankar was summoned based on statements given to the NIA by the accused.
Sivasankar, who was the Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and also the Information Technology (IT) Secretary, was removed from both the posts, days before he was suspended from the service. The controversial case pertains to the smuggling of 30 kg gold in a camouflaged diplomatic baggage from UAE to Kerala. It is alleged that Sivasankar is closely associated with accused Swapna Suresh and Sarith PS.
Earlier, documents had surfaced showing the call records of gold smuggling accused Sarith PS and Sivasankar. In the documents, it was seen that Sarith had called Sivasankar multiple times between April and July. It has also been reported that the apartment where the conspiracy regarding the gold smuggling was hatched, was allegedly booked by a former employee of the IT Department on the direction of Sivasankar.
On July 14, hours after documents of the call records became public, the Customs Department had summoned Sivasankar for similar questioning which lasted for over seven continuous hours. However, Sivasankar has yet not been booked in any cases by Customs or the NIA.
The allegations against Sivasankar, a trusted aide of Pinarayi Vijayan, had come as a big blow to the Chief Minister and the state government. The Opposition is demanding Pinarayiâ€™s resignation and asking him to take moral responsibility for the allegations against top officials of his government.
An inquiry committee headed by the state Chief Secretary -- on whose report Sivasankar was suspended from service, had also recommended that the government probe the postings made under the IT Department for its various projects.
According to reports, the NIA has asked the government for CCTV footage from the Secretariat. It was earlier alleged by the Congress that crucial CCTV footage, which reveals the connection of the gold smuggling accused with top officials, at the Secretariat, was destroyed under the guise of maintenance.
However, it is unclear about which exam visuals the NIA has asked for. The Chief Secretary's office on Thursday in a statement said that maintenance was only done on the CCTV camera in the ex-bureaucrat's office alone since it was damaged due to lightning.
Watch Sivasankar summoned to Thiruvananthapuram police club: