Thiruvananthapuram: The position of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with regard to the sensational gold smuggling case has become even more vulnerable with the NIA informing the court that Swapna Suresh, the kingpin of the racket, had much clout with the CM’s office.
Central government’s assistant solicitor general Vijayakumar, who appeared on behalf of NIA, told the court that Swapna Suresh was known to the chief minister. This negates the assertion by Vijayan that he was not aware of who the lady was, when her name cropped up in the case for the first time.
Much to the relief of the government, the NIA limited her ties with the chief minister only to casual familiarity, steering clear of any claim of his office’s influence.
The NIA submissions were in response to the bail application moved by Swapna, whose advocate challenged the application of UAPA in the case, saying that the investigating agency has not submitted credible proofs to the court.
The opposition parties pounced on the opportunity to up the ante and demand the chief minister’s resignation in view of the NIA claim.
All eyes are now on how Pinarayi Vijayan responds to the NIA assertions. The chief minister’s office informed media houses that the daily Covid briefing for the day has been cancelled. Although the cancellation may not be due to whatever has emerged out of the NIA court, the opposition parties have claimed such a connection.
The NIA claimed in the court that M Sivasankar, the former principal secretary of the chief minister and the former IT secretary, has been a benefactor of Swapna Suresh. But it told the court that he refused to intervene when the woman approached him for help to get the contraband gold released from the customs.
The NIA told the court that it was Sivasankar who offered her a job in the IT department under his charge for a hefty salary while she was still working with the UAE consulate. The woman had a lot of influence on the consulate as it was said that the consul general could not function without her assistance. Apparently, she continued to receive $1,000 per month from the consulate even after she left that job and joined the IT department.
According to the investigators, Swapna Suresh was the mastermind behind the entire operation of gold smuggling through the diplomatic channel. She told the investigators that she used to consult Sivasankar, although there is nothing yet that links him to the gold smuggling.
At the same time, the investigators insist that they have not given a clean chit to Sivasankar, as they are studying further evidence of any involvement, including the footage of CCTC in the secretariat and his office.
It is believed that the NIA and customs would make their next move on Sivasankar after they analyse the evidences collected so far and are in the pipeline.