Kerala

Chennithala lashes out at Kerala CM Pinarayi, asks why ex-IT secretary not suspended despite questioned by Customs in gold-smuggling case

Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala

Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala   | Photo Credit: S.Gopakumar

The Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly also said the Opposition will move a resolution against Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan, who had inaugurated a shop belonging to one of the accused in the gold-smuggling casee, seeking his removal from the post.

Hitting out at Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala on Wednesday asked why former IT secretary M. Sivasankar was not suspended despite being questioned by the Customs in the gold-smuggling case.

Mr. Chennithala, who met the media in Thiruvananthapuram, also said the Opposition will move a resolution in the Assembly against Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan, who had inaugurated a shop belonging to one of the accused in the case, seeking his removal from the post.

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“The Chief Minister is justifying and protecting the accused in the gold-smuggling case. Why is he hesitant to suspend his former secretary Sivasankar who was questioned by the customs for over eight hours in the gold-smuggling case. The CM is still asking why he should suspend Sivasankar,” Mr. Chennithala said.

The senior Congress leader alleged that the Chief Minister was protecting those who have indulged in “anti-national activities.”

“We will move a resolution to remove the Speaker from the post. The Speaker had inaugurated the shop of one of the accused. The Chief Minister is justifying that too,” Mr. Chennithala said.

Responding to queries if action would be taken against the official in the backdrop of the customs summoning him, Mr. Vijayan had said that a panel headed by Chief Secretary, Vishwas Mehta, was probing the allegations against the bureaucrat and action would be taken, if he was found guilty. Sivasankar is presently on a year’s leave.

The government had removed Sivasankar as Principal Secretary to the CM and also IT Secretary after allegations surfaced that he had links with the woman accused in the case related to the attempt to smuggle gold through diplomatic baggage using the name of a person in the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.

The Customs is probing whether Sivasankar had used his office to provide any help to key accused – Sarith, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair.

The Customs seized the gold, weighing over 30kg and valued at around ₹15 crore on July 5.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has been entrusted with the probe into the case has booked four accused – Sarith, Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair and Fasil Fareed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Meanwhile, State BJP chief K. Surendran launched an attack against State Minister K.T. Jaleel alleging that he has links with the accused in the gold-smuggling case.

“Jaleel’s claims are contradictory. He has contacts with the accused in the case,” Mr. Surendran said.

Mr. Jaleel was also under fire after the phone records of one of the accused, Swapna Suresh, showed that the Minister had contacted her.

The Minister has said the phone calls were related to the UAE consulate-related matter.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 5:39:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/chennithala-lashes-out-at-kerala-cm-pinarayi-asks-why-ex-it-secretary-not-suspended-despite-questioned-by-customs-in-gold-smuggling-case/article32092940.ece

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