Kerala Secretariat fire: Governor seeks report, as opposition alleges attempt to sabotage gold smuggling case evidence
Kerala Secretariat fire: Governor seeks report, as opposition alleges attempt to sabotage gold smuggling case evidence

Thiruvananthapuram: Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has intervened in the alleged sabotage in the protocol section of the state secretariat in which sensitive files relating to the use of diplomatic channel for gold smuggling and other illegal activities kept.

In response to a letter by Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala asking the Governor to summon Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and chief secretary Vishwas Mehta to answer questions about the incident, the Governor referred the matter to the chief minister and sought a detailed report.

The opposition parties are mounting pressure against the government, by alleging that the sabotage has been organised on behalf of the chief minister as his office is coming increasingly under a cloud.

The government has constituted a high-level committee to probe the incident and the chief minister is refusing to answer further questions by newspersons on the plea that he is waiting for the findings of the panel to emerge.

Mystery on Life Mission deepens

The mystery about the state government’s housing plan, Life Mission, has deepened with the external affairs ministry clarifying that the state government has not sought the permission of the central government to enter into such a financial transaction.

But the chief minister argued at his Covid media briefing that as per his understanding, there was no need to seek central permission as it is not a transaction between the state government and another government or its entity.

More damning details of the deal are coming out, which suggest that the particular project for which the UAE Red Crescent provided over Rs 20 crore does not even have approval for the building plan. The plan was approved in the name of Habitat, which was removed from the project subsequent to the entry of Unitac, the company hired by Life Mission to execute the project.

The opposition parties staged more protests across the state against the alleged sabotage in the protocol section which keeps the records relating to all foreign tours of ministers and bureaucrats as well as the clearance certificates issued to the UAE consulate for the import of goods through the diplomatic channel.

No such approvals were issued in the past two years, although the import of goods went on during the entire period. The last such case was when 30 kg of gold was seized by Customs from a packet addressed to an official of the consulate.

It turns out that no requests for such permission were made after key accused Swapna Suresh got her accomplice Sarith as the PRO of the consulate two years ago.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal