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Thursday, April 22, 2021

‘This land will not blame us…you’ll soon realise it’: Vijayan flays BJP after Customs links him to gold smuggling

The political scenario in the poll-bound state has heated up as the Customs informed the Kerala High Court that Swapna Suresh, key accused in the gold smuggling case, “stated with clarity about smuggling of foreign currency at the instance of” CM Vijayan and Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 6, 2021 9:11:02 pm
Pinarayi VijayanKerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (file photo)

A day after the Customs linked the Kerala Chief Minister to the gold smuggling case, Pinarayi Vijayan Saturday came down heavily on the BJP-led central government and said “this land will not blame us, no matter what you do”.

In a fiery response, CM Vijayan said, “All I have to say to the BJP and the agencies that dance to their tunes is this: we are not the kind of people you are accustomed to dealing with. We are different. No matter what you do, this land will not blame us. Our lives are open books, and you will soon realise it.”

The political scenario in the poll-bound state has heated up as the Customs informed the Kerala High Court that Swapna Suresh, key accused in the gold smuggling case, “stated with clarity about smuggling of foreign currency at the instance of” CM Vijayan and Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan, and “about the improper and illegal activities of three Ministers of the State Cabinet and the Speaker”.

These claims were made by Sumit Kumar, Commissioner of Customs (Preventive), Kochi, in an affidavit filed in the High Court Thursday.

The case pertains to the seizure of 30 kg gold, worth Rs 14.82 crore, on July 5, 2020 at the Air Cargo terminal of Trivandrum International Airport by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Kochi, from a diplomatic baggage that had arrived from the UAE. The case was later transferred to the NIA. It initially arrested Sarith PS, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair even as it made trips to the UAE to investigate the case. Till date, the agency has arrested 21 people in the case.

This is the first time that Customs has made an allegation against the Chief Minister, although his former principal secretary M Sivasankar’s alleged role had figured in probes by multiple central agencies inquiring into smuggling and related cases. The Speaker’s personal staff had been questioned by the Customs in January.

Earlier in the day, the ruling LDF carried out protest marches towards the offices of the central agency in the state as the Customs has initiated an investigation against its top leaders in connection with the smuggling case.

However, the LDF has hit back stating that the BJP is engaged in “cheap politics”. In a release, the CPM state secretariat had said: “BJP is upset over the image of the Chief Minister and the government. The investigating agencies have stooped to the level of campaign tools. Kerala would give a fitting reply to the challenge thrown by the BJP-Congress combine. The Customs action is a blatant violation of the poll code and a misuse of investigating agencies… Those who are engaged in cheap politics should realise that this is Kerala.”

 

In the wake of the allegations, the opposition Congress and the BJP have sought the resignation of the Chief Minister.

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