The special court of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases in Kochi on Thursday sent M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan seven days custody of the Enforcement Directorate(ED).
Though the ED had requested a 14-day custody, the court allowed seven days. The court said Sivasankar should be given an hour’s rest after every three-hour questioning and that he should only be interrogated between 9am and 6pm.
Sivasankar was taken into custody on Wednesday morning by the ED, minutes after his anticipatory bail plea was rejected by Kerala High Court in the sensational gold smuggling case. The ED recorded his arrest on Wednesday night after taking him to its Kochi office. According to ED, Sivasankar’s involvement helped in the smuggling of gold 21 times from 2019 to 2020.
Sivasankar came under the scanner of national investigation agencies, including the National Investigation Agency (NIA), after his links with key accused in the gold smuggling case surfaced. The ED has said Sivasankar has major involvement in the crime and that he might be the real beneficiary.
In the arrest memo, the ED said: “During the statement given to ED on 15 October, you accepted to have spoken to a senior Customs officer and made the request as per the wishes of Swapna Suresh. This clearly shows your active involvement in the offence committed by Swapna. This amounts to misuse of public office and interference in the official working of other government departments.”
Meanwhile, BineeshKodiyeri, son of CPI-M Kerala secretary KodiyeriBalakrishnan, was arrested by the ED in Bengaluru in connection with a drug peddling related money laundering case. He was taken into ED custody on Thursday after questioning him for three hours at its Bengaluru office and his arrest was subsequently recorded. Bineesh has been sent to ED custody for four days by a Bengaluru court, it has been reported.
Reacting to the two arrests in two separate cases, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala accused the CPI-M of running underworld activities in the state.
He alleged that the CPI-M itself has been taken into custody in the state and that the party secretary’s house has turned into a hub for narcotics business and underworld activities are taking place inside the CM’s residence.
Cong, BJP seek CM’s resignation:
The arrest has given the Opposition ~ Congress and BJP ~ an unexpected political weapon to attack Vijayan, heading the lone Communist government in the country, which has claimed to have implemented several people friendly initiatives, adds PTI.
Both parties on Thursday staged protests across Kerala seeking the CM’s resignation. The Congress and BJP’s Yuva Morcha staged protests in front of the state secretariat and a few activists of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha managed to enter the complex.
Police arrested and removed the activists from the north block area, where the chief minister’s office is situated and in some places, the police had to use water cannons todisperse the protesters.