August 2020
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Kerala News
Gold smuggling: Planned campaign to tarnish govt''s image, says Kerala CM; NIA conducts raids at several places
Thiruvananthapuram: Facing flak from the opposition in the gold smuggling case, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday said the attack on the state government was a "planned campaign" to tarnish its image, as the NIA stepped up investigation carrying out raids in multiple locations here. Vijayan told the media that the investigation in the matter involving diplomaticbaggage will proceed and the culprits will be brought to book. "When the news of customs seizureof gold from the airport came out, one responsible leader of a political party tried to put the blame on the state government and said someone from the Chief Minister''s Office tried to influence the customs officials.

However, we all know what happened later.This was part of their planned campaign to tarnish the imageof the state government," Vijayan said. The Congress and the BJP had targeted the left government,alleging that the chief minister''s office had links with the issue of seizure of around 30 kg of gold worth Rs 15 crore on July 5. On July 6, BJP state chief K Surendran had alleged that the CMO had tried to interfere in the matter. When asked whether the case has affected the image of the state government, Vijayan said the investigation was going on and the state government will not protect anyone including any official involved in the matter. "The people of the state can see what''s happening in the case.

The opposition parties are trying to create a cloud of doubt over the state government.But such lies will not last long. Even some media houses have also joined in the campaign. Let the truth come out," Vijayan said. Meanwhile, in a related incident, one of the accused in the case, Sandeep Nair,told the media that he has full faith in the NIA and the judiciary. He spoke to the mediawhile he was brought here as part of the investigation along with another accused Swapna Suresh. The agency conducted searches at multiple locations in the city including the flats and offices of the duo in connection with the case. Earlier in the day, the statement of the Kerala police personnel, who was serving as a gunman at the UAE consulate here and allegedly tried to end his life yesterday, was recorded by a magistrate at a private hospital here.

Jay Gosh, who was reported missing by his family since Thursday night, was found from near his home at Thumba on Friday morning allegedly with a slashed wrist, resulting in bleeding. "The magistrate came to the hospital and recorded his statement.The police are yet to question him.As of now, his condition is stable," a senior police official told PTI. He was found lying near his ancestral home and had been admitted to a private hospital here. The policeman had reportedly told his family that he was facing threats from some people. The incident came amid the sensational gold smuggling case in which the precious metal was brought into the country in a diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate.

Ghosh, who was earlier posted in the airport here, has been with the consulate since 2017 and had reportedly contacted at least thrice Swapna Suresh,a key accused in the gold smuggling case, on July 5, when the gold was seized by the Customs. The gold, worth around Rs 15 crore, was received at the airport here as a diplomatic cargo addressed to an official in the consulate of the United Arab Emirates and the Customs have said they suspected a syndicate misused the diplomatic immunity to smuggle it. The case is being investigated by Customs and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which has booked Suresh, Sarith, Sandeep Nair and Fasil Fareed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention ) Act.

Suresh was found working in the IT department and her contractual service terminated after her name cropped up in the gold smuggling. IAS officer M Sivasakar was removed as principal secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the state IT secretary over his alleged links with Suresh and other accused in the case. He was suspended on Thursday. Fareed is still at large while the other accused, including Suresh and Sarith, both former employees of the UAE consulate, have been arrested.

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