Sat, 20 Aug 2022

Kochi (Kerala) [India], August 2 (ANI): Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, on Monday, alleged that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan not only violated protocol but also his oath of office during the visit of Sharjah's ruler to the state in 2017.

Speaking to the media persons, Swapna claimed that neither the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) nor the UAE Consulate knew about the change in the itinerary of the visiting dignitary from Kozhikode to the state capital.

"As per the instructions from the Chief Minister, from his principal secretary, I had rerouted the entire journey of Sharjah Ruler. I have shared a document with you which is actually the copy that I have got from MEA. It says that Sharjah Ruler's entire visit will be at Kozhikode to receive the D-lit award. There was no intimation to MEA about his Thiruvananthapuram programme," Suresh said to media persons.

She added, "Because being secretary to the Consul General, we haven't got a formal intimation from MEA regarding the program schedule. We have got only the intimation from state protocol. Upon Chief Minister's instructions, upon Sivasankar's (then principal secretary to CMO) instructions, I told Manoj Abraham, IPS, to inform the Superintendent of Police at Leela Palace hotel to reroute the entire journey. It was required to reroute the whole thing and hold a one on one meeting at Cliff House (official residence of CM). What's that for?"Suresh alleged that the Kerala Chief Minister had misused power, office and the system in Kerala.

"The one-on-one meeting was arranged by the Chief Minister for the business requirements for the IT hub in Sharjah of the Chief Minister's daughter. It was in the presence of Veena Vijayan (CM's daughter), Kamala Vijayan (CM's wife), KT Jaleel (the then Kerala Minister) and others. I have the video where all these people are present. This is the misuse of power," the gold smuggling accused said.

Suresh further said that Kerala Chief Minister Vijayan misused power for the sake of protecting his daughter's interests.

Suresh further said that in the coming days, she will gather more documents in the matter.

"It's not only a protocol violation. CM has taken an oath of office. He is supposed to protect all of us. He cannot violate the oath of office. He cannot violate the protocol. MEA does not know what is actually happening in Kerala. I am just trying to gather documents in the coming days," she said.

Suresh further attacked the Kerala government by saying that CM Vijayan, Sivasankar and the CMO have done work affecting national security. "I am just waiting to gather the documents. As soon as I get that too, then you will know the degree of violation, not just protocol, violation of even his office powers, violation of everything for that matter. Our Chief Minister has misused his office, his power and the entire system affecting national security," she said.

On July 5, 2020, 30 kilograms of 24-carat gold worth Rs 14.82 crore was seized by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs at Thiruvananthapuram Airport from a diplomatic bag that was meant to be delivered to the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. M Sivasankar, the principal secretary to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, was suspended and removed from the post after preliminary inquiry confirmed that he had links with Swapna Suresh, one of the accused in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe.

On June 30, 2020, acting on an anonymous tip, the Customs officials at Trivandrum International Airport detained diplomatic baggage from Dubai on suspicion of smuggling. Since the bag came under diplomatic immunity, opening it without following procedures was not possible, especially since a call claiming to be from the secretary of the consulate general of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram asked the Customs to release the baggage.

On Sunday, July 5, 2020, the bag was opened in the presence of a senior officer from the high commissioner's office in Delhi and the consulate official whose name was on the baggage, to reveal the smuggled gold which weighed around 30 kg. The gold was concealed in baggage consisting of bathroom equipment. Further investigation about the call led the initial inquiry to Swapna Suresh, an ex-UAE consulate employee and state IT department consultant. The Indian officials said that it was first time in history that such a large scale smuggling attempt happened under the name of a foreign nation's diplomatic office. (ANI)

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