The Customs official, who denied that there was a call from the chief minister’s office when the gold contraband was held at the airport, has been transferred to Nagpur.
The denial was repeatedly used by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to distance his office from the case of gold smuggling through the diplomatic channel.
The statement by the Customs official, Joint Commissioner Anish P Rajan, had come as a great relief for the ruling front even as the opposition parties have been demanding the resignation of Pinarayi Vijayan for the alleged involvement of his office in protecting the suspects.
The joint commissioner was earlier removed from the team investigating the sensational case. His statement had irked the opposition parties, which alleged that the official had communist links and that he had deliberately made the claim to help the chief minister to excuse himself from any blame.
The NIA team, which has joined the investigations, is currently examining the footage of CCTV at the state secretariat, including the chief minister’s office as well as the office of M Shivasankar, his principal secretary and the state’s IT secretary, who has since been removed from both posts and suspended from service for his alleged connection with the suspects.
The NIA questioned the bureaucrat for over 24 hours in three sessions to ascertain any role by him in abetting the crime. He was then let off, although the investigators have made it clear that he may be summoned again when the results of the analysis of the CCTV footage become available.
Meanwhile, both the opposition United Democratic Front and the BJP have announced their separate plans of agitation, demanding the resignation of the chief minister and the institution of a CBI probe into a series of corruption charges they have made against the chief minister’s office.