Mysterious Swapna audio muddles gold smuggling probe

Thiruvananthapuram: An audio clip by gold smuggling kingpin Swapna Suresh, going viral on social media, has added to the suspense in the sensational case in which the Chief Minister’s Office has increasingly come under a cloud.

The audio has Swapna Suresh claiming pressure from the investigating agencies to mention the name of the chief minister in connection with the clandestine operation. Adding mystery to the claim is that the woman has been incarcerated in the Attakkulangara jail for women and as such she has no means to record such a clip and to pass it on to outside sources.

The state CPI-M and the central leadership of the party lost no time in using the clip to back their claim that the central agencies have been trying to implicate the chief minister’s office in the twin scams of gold smuggling and Life Mission kickbacks.

In a coincidence, the CM’s former principal secretary M Sivasankar, now in judicial custody, had made a similar claim in a written statement to the court on the day it was about to decide on his bail application, although the hearing had already been completed. The court ultimately denied him bail.

The deepening mystery has prompted the opposition to claim that Swapna’s voice clip is a command operation organised by the chief minister’s office as the content favours the chief minister and the ruling front politically. A day before the clip got into the social media, state BJP president K Surendran had claimed that at least 15 people had visited Swapna Suresh in the jail on behalf of the chief minister and the finance minister, whose name is also getting dragged into the case.

The leak has caused much embarrassment to the jail department, part of the home ministry and under the chief minister’s charge, which promptly asked for an enquiry into the incident. The jail chief had challenged the BJP leader to prove his claim.

A police officer deployed to hold an enquiry visited the jail and he has confirmed that Swapna Suresh owned up her voice in the audio, but she claimed ignorance about when it was recorded. The officer has reported to his superiors that the recording could not have taken place in the jail.

The Enforcement Directorate, probing the twin cases, has refused to take various claims on their face value and suspect the developments to be part of an effort to discredit the probe agencies and mislead the investigations.

PT Thomas, who is facing a state Vigilance probe in a suspicious land deal, has accused pliable elements in the state Vigilance to be behind the voice clip. Vigilance had investigated Swapna Suresh in the jail in connection with the Life Mission kickbacks.

ED has decided to hold its own investigations into the voice clip incident and might even quiz the jail officials to see if there had been any lapses in terms of security.

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