Following the reports of the gold seizure, the state IT department on Monday stated that it has terminated the service of Swapna Suresh who was working as an operational manager with the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd.
- News18 Thiruvananthapuram
- Last Updated: July 7, 2020, 12:26 AM IST
Customs on Monday arrested a man, who claimed himself to be a former employee of foreign country’s consulate in Kerala, in connection with the seizure of gold worth over Rs 15 crore from a “diplomatic baggage” at an airport in the state.
The man was arrested following his interrogation in connection with the seizure of gold from the diplomatic baggage from Thiruvananthapuram international airport on Sunday, the Customs officials said.
Sarith Kumar, who claimed to be working with the Consulate as a PRO was taken into custody in connection with the seizure of gold.
Customs personnel on Sunday seized over 30 kg of gold that landed in “diplomatic baggage” by air cargo at the international airport here under the name of a person who enjoys diplomatic immunity.
On Monday, Customs personnel said they were looking for a woman, also claiming herself to be a former employee of the consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, in connection with the case.
Following the reports of the gold seizure, the state IT department on Monday stated that it has terminated the service of Swapna Suresh who was working as an operational manager with the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd, one of the prestigious projects of the state.
“She was into a six-month contract and had ended already. However, she was continuing due to the COVID-19 and lockdown,” said the IT department. Earlier, Swapna Suresh had worked as executive secretary at the Consulate of United Arab Emirates at Thiruvananthapuram.
BJP state president K Surendran alleged that the gold smuggling racket has links with the office of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who holds the portfolio.
“The first call, as the smugglers were taken into custody by the customs, was from the chief minister’s office. Swapna Suresh has close contacts with S Shivsanakr, the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, who is also the IT Secretary,” he said.
The BJP leader also asked how a person like Swapna who was kicked out of the UAE Consulate could join the chief minister’s office in a key post. “The state special branch had informed CM about her background as she was questioned by the crime branch for forging documents in a case against an Air India official. However, he rejected all these,” he said.
Vijayan said he was unaware of the factors behind the appointment of the woman and would look into the matter.
“This was a major haul that happened in the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. I would like to congratulate the Customs team that monitored the smuggling activity and seized the gold. It seems like they have details of those involved in the matter and the Customs will act soon,” Vijayan said.
Dismissing the BJP chief’s charge that the CMO was involved in the matter, Vijayan said his office had never entertained anyone involved in any sort of corruption and the people of the state know that.
He also said that those involved would not be able to escape and would be brought to justice.
Meanwhile, the UAE Embassy in India had stated it utterly condemns the attempted misuse of diplomatic channels by an individual engaged in smuggling activity.
“The Embassy firmly rejects such acts and unequivocally affirms that the mission and its diplomatic staff had no role in this matter,” it stated.
The UAE Embassy said the person, who was working as a PRO with the Consulate resigned from the job three months ago was fired for misconduct.
With PTI inputs