Kerala gold seizure: Opposition seeks Pinarayi Vijayan’s resignation over alleged CMO link to smuggling racket

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Updated: Jul 08, 2020 3:46 PM

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala Ramesh has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a CBI probe and an investigation by the ED in the gold smuggling and its alleged links with the CMO.

Gold seizure case: Opposition demands Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s resignation.

The opposition in Kerala has upped the ante against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office over its alleged involvement in a gold smuggling racket. Addressing the media, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala demanded that Vijayan step down as CM. Ramesh, also the Leader of Opposition, claimed that CM Vijayan shared a close relation with the state IT department’s staffer Swapna Suresh who was sacked after her name surfaced in the gold smuggling case.

“UDF is demanding resignation of CM Pinarayi Vijayan. In a high profile gold smuggling case, CMO got involved to save accused Swapna Suresh. CM’s principal secretary was asked to step down due to his links with her. The Chief Minister shared a close relation with her,” he said.

He said that the CM was trying to shift the blame on a placement agency that hired Swapna.

“Pricewaterhouse Coopers is the placement agency that appointed Swapna Suresh in the IT department. CM is trying to put the blame on the placement agency,” he said.

Swapna, he said, faced a criminal case and intelligence had blacklisted her.

Ramesh has also written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a CBI probe and an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate in the gold smuggling and its alleged links with the CMO.

Vijayan is facing heat after his office and principal secretary M Shivshankar’s name got mired into the case that saw seizure of 30 kg of gold at the Thiruvananthapuram airport. The yellow metal, valued Rs 15 crore, was seized from diplomatic baggage of the United Arab Emirates Consulate General by the Customs department.

The state government on Tuesday removed Principal Secretary to the CM Shivshankar after his name was figured in the case. The officer has since proceeded on leave.

A local was arrested while a woman employee of the state IT Department was sacked from her job. The lady — Swapna Suresh, had worked as a marketing manager with Space Park under the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited. She had earlier worked at the Consulate as executive secretary.

The incident marks a first in the country when the Customs has seized gold from the diplomatic baggage meant for the staff in the United Arab Emirates Consulate General in Kerala.

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