Kerala

Gold smuggling case: Kerala CM writes to PM for probe

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File   | Photo Credit: S. MAHINSHA

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an “effective and coordinated” investigation by “all Central agencies concerned” into the seizure of gold by Customs officials at the international airport here on July 5.

Mr. Vijayan’s open letter to Mr. Modi was seen as a political counter to attempts by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to link his office to the economic offence.

Mr. Vijayan termed the crime as “extremely serious” and one with “ implications” for the nation. He said the attempt to smuggle gold (concealed in diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate here) had “more than one angle warranting a thorough investigation”.

The “scope of the probe should cover all aspects from the source to the end utilisation. Every link should be unravelled. The State government would provide all necessary assistance,” he said.

Chennithala’s demand

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala demanded Mr. Vijayan’s resignation. He said the “controversial woman” suspect in the case had free run of the Chief Minister’s Office.

She had gained employment in an IT Department subsidiary through a global consultancy favoured by Mr. Vijayan to offer advice on mega power and mobility projects. The woman had organised the “Space Conclave” at the behest of the IT Department under Mr. Vijayan.

Videos and photographs of the suspect socialising with ruling front politicians testified to her outsize influence in the government. He said the CBI inquiry should investigate the role of Mr. Vijayan’s office in the scam.

BJP charge

In New Delhi, Union Minister of State External Affairs V. Muraleedharan said the Centre had taken the crime seriously. Mr. Vijayan could not disassociate himself from the case. His office had given the woman involved in the offence a plum posting in the IT Department despite cautionary reports from the State Police Intelligence and the Crime Branch.

The Congress and the BJP also used photographs and videos of official and private events to link Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan to the gold smuggling case suspect.

The Speaker has denied any link with the woman and said he had encountered her only at public functions.

The Indian Union Muslim League has also demanded an thorough inquiry covering the CMO.

Kerala Congress (M) factional leader Jose. K. Mani demurred from making any statement critical of Mr. Vijayan’s office.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 4:10:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/gold-smuggling-case-kerala-cm-writes-to-pm-for-probe/article32027766.ece

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