As Kerala Chief Minister came under fire in the gold smuggling case involving the former PRO of the UAE consulate in Thuruvananthapuram and a Kerala woman, Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said he is ready for any probe and it is the Centre’s call.
“We have no say in it, we are ready for any probe and the Centre can decide whichever agency should probe this,” said Vijayan.
On Tuesday senior IAS officer and secretary to Vijayan, M Sivasankar was removed from office and in the evening was divested of the IT secretary’s post.
Reacting to Sivasankar being booted out of the posts, Pinarayi Vijayan said the Left is a “special breed” and the opposition Congress-led UDF can never match the ruling alliance.
“We do things differently and the reason why Sivasankar was asked to go is because of the report that he knew that woman,” said Vijayan and added that this woman never worked in any government organisation and hence the government has nothing to do with it.
“The Congress opposition is trying to create what happened when they were in office during the solar scam (when a woman named Saritha Nair dealing in solar panels had alleged links with three staff of then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy) and hence they think of that. But we are of a different breed. We do not get soiled with such things,” he said.
His remarks came after leader of opposition and senior Congressman Ramesh Chennithala wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday over the “misuse of diplomatic immunity of UAE Consulate, Thiruvananthapuram by international gold smuggling cartels with the collusion of officials working for the Kerala government, who have deep-rooted connections with decision-makers at the CMO”.
In the letter dated July 7, Chennithala has urged the PM to initiate CBI inquiry into the gold smuggling case.
“I solicit your immediate intervention to investigate into this nefarious act, which has serious implications on India’s national security and the potential to irreparably damage age-old friendly ties between India and the UAE,” the letter read.
On Monday, Chennithala had alleged that the Chief Minister’s office was turning into a hub of criminal activities and demanded a CBI investigation into the same.
The main accused, Swapna Suresh — former Operations Manager with Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Ltd — is reportedly on the run after her name emerged in the investigation of the gold smuggling scandal which links her with top smugglers operating from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Meanwhile, the UAE Ambassador told Gulf News that the country is looking forward to fully cooperating with Indian customs authorities to thoroughly investigate the matter and urged stringent legal action against those involved in the smuggling case.
The envoy said that the authorities in UAE have launched an investigation to find out who sent the cargo containing gold to UAE consulate’s address.
“Authorities have stressed that culprits who not only committed the major crime but also sought to tarnish reputation of UAE mission in India won’t be spared,” he added.
“We remain committed to cooperating with Indian authorities in getting to the root of the crime,” the UAE Amabssador assrted.
The UAE consulate had earlier denied any involvement of its personnel in this issue and said that Sarith Kumar — the former PRO of the UAE consulate at Thiruvananthapuram — who is in custody was dismissed from the consulate much earlier.
Meanwhile, CBI officials arrived at Commissionerate Of Customs (Preventive) in Kochi today for discussion with customs officials in the alleged gold smuggling case.
On Sunday, the Air Customs attached to the Thiruvananthapuram airport had made a seizure of 30 kg of gold worth Rs 30 crore, that arrived on a cargo flight and was kept in a warehouse in Thiruvananthapuram for release. The baggage had arrived from Dubai and is understood to have been marked to the UAE Consulate which has its office in the heart of the capital.