Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing his displeasure with the inquiry by central agencies in an alleged gold smuggling case, NDTV reported on Thursday.
In a letter on Wednesday, Vijayan said that the agencies are “conducting fishing and roving enquiries to find out whether there is any chance to allege any offence in a situation where the agencies have not been able to find anything specific against the state government”, reported The Indian Express. The chief minister said that the investigation was against the interest of a “co-operative federal spirit”.
The Enforcement Directorate, the customs department and the National Investigation Agency are conducting separate inquiries into the alleged gold smuggling racket that was busted with the seizure of Rs 15 crore worth of the precious metal from the ‘diplomatic baggage’ of the United Arab Emirates Consulate at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5.
Vijayan’s letter came after the agencies widened their scope of investigation inquiring into schemes like Life Mission and Kerala Infrastructure Fund Board, which is the state’s flagship housing programme, according to NDTV.
Taking exception to this, Vijayan wrote: “The Enforcement Directorate has crossed all limits.” He said five months into the investigation, neither the source nor the end utilisation of the gold which has been smuggled has been unraveled.
Vijayan also alleged an orchestrated campaign against the state, in cooperation with certain officials of the probe agencies, and cited examples of leaked confidential statements as proof.
“This is evident in the news leaked out regarding alleged contents of a sworn statement recorded before a magistrate at the instance of the Customs Department,” Vijayan wrote. “The statements given by the accused/witnesses are being selectively leaked to the media.”
Meanwhile on Thursday, the chief minister’s Additional Private Secretary CM Raveendran - appeared before the Enforcement Directorate, after being summoned for the fourth time. He was hospitalised for Covid-19 and related complications after each of the earlier summons. according to NDTV.
Gold smuggling case
On July 5, gold weighing 30 kg concealed in imported plumbing material was seized by customs officials upon inspection of an air cargo consignment addressed to the Consular General of the United Arab Emirates in Thiruvananthapuram district. Officials valued the gold at Rs 15 crore.
The customs department arrested one Sarith PS on the same day for allegedly facilitating the smuggling of the gold in diplomatic baggage from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai.
Sarith PS and another accused, Swapna Suresh, worked at the consulate-general’s office until seven months ago. Later, the state government had appointed Suresh as marketing liaison officer of the Space Park project under the IT Department’s Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited. Her contract was terminated after the allegations surfaced.
M Sivasankar was also removed as the principal secretary of Vijayan after Opposition leaders questioned his alleged association with the three accused.
On July 22, the Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering complaint in the case. The Enforcement Case Information Report, equivalent to a first information report, will enable the directorate to attach the properties of the accused.
On August 10, a special NIA court dismissed Suresh’s bail plea. The NIA has told the court that proceeds from the smuggling might be used for terror funding.