Kerala gold smuggling case: Swapna releases audio tapes of chat with CM Vijayan’s ‘mediator’

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Updated: Saturday, June 11, 2022, 0:04 [IST]

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jun 10: Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling diplomatic baggage case, on Friday released audio clips of her purported conversation with a man, who according to her is connected with the powerful people in the government, to “substantiate” her claim he had Approached her to “settle” the issues arising out of her statement made before a magistrate court recently on the alleged role of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family members in certain alleged smuggling activities.

Swapna Suresh

In the purported audio clips, the man named Shaj Kiran, a former media person, was heard asking Suresh why she gave a statement before the court under Section 164 of CrPC and said the chief minister would not tolerate her statements targeting his family members in connection with a certain smuggling case.

In the wake of the latest development, the Opposition Congress mounted pressure for Vijayan’s resignation, with party located taking out protest marches in different parts of the state over the issue, even as the ruling CPI(M) continued to strongly defend the chief minister.

The audio clips were released at a press conference held in Palakkad a day after Kiran claimed that he was called to her office by Suresh in Palakkad on Wednesday and while there he had only asked why she made the revelations now and whether she was aware of the problems she would have to face as a result.

In an apparent bid to show his proximity with top police officers, in the audio clips he was also heard saying he has received calls from the Additional Director General of Police and said he can help remove legal obstacles preventing her travel abroad.

He was also heard saying that a notice has come from the Central Intelligence Bureau revealing that funds of two powerful politicians in the ruling LDF was going to the US through a Kerala-based Oriental Protestant Church due to which its FCRA was cancelled.

Rejecting the claims, a church spokesperson told a news channel that he knows Kiran as a media person and it would initiate legal action against him for dragging the in the controversy and tarnishing its image.

Reacting to the claims, Kiran claimed the audio clips released by Suresh were edited and that he would release its original version on Saturday.

Suresh said she released the audio clips only to show “each one of you what is happening in our state.” “What is happening in Kerala. I am an accused. I agree. I believe in the honorable court and of course, the investigation agencies who are handling my case,” she told reporters after releasing the audio clips.

She reiterated the claim that Kiran was introduced to her by the former principal secretary to the chief minister M Sivasankar in the past as a person very close to the CM and other Left leaders.

In a plea filed before the high court on Thursday, she had also claimed Kiran pressed her and her friend Sarith PS to ‘surrender’ before the CM and gave a statement that what she deposed before the court was at the instigation of her lawyers, RSS and the BJP.

He also allegedly threatened them with dire consequences if they did not do as he instructed, the further claimed.

Amid mounting protest by opposition parties seeking resignation of Chief Minister, the ruling CPI(M) alleged that the opposition, which lost the Assembly polls held last year, raked up the gold smuggling case again to create political instability in the southern state.

CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan alleged that their target was the Chief Minister and his family.

“This is an organized attack on the Chief Minister and his family. There is a conspiracy in it. There is a political motive behind this”, Balakrishnan told a press conference.

Hitting out at the ruling LDF, KPCC Chief K Sudhakaran said that it was clear that Kerala was ruled by mafia groups and the Home Department was controlled by brokers.

He alleged that excerpts from the audio recording reveal the secret dealings of CPI(M) leaders with money launderers and the land mafia.

In the light of the fresh revelation through the audio clips, an investigation by any agency other than the court is not acceptable, Sudhakaran said.

Meanwhile, Kerala continued to witness protest marches and clashes with police by the opposition party, on the third consecutive day, demanding the resignation of the Minister view of fresh revelations against him and his family by Suresh.

Congress and Youth Congress took out marches to Collectorates and district headquarters across the state raising slogans against the CM and the LDF government.

Police lathicharged the protesting and used water cannons to disperse them in various districts including Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kannur and so on.

Tension prevailed for some time in Kollam district following a clash that broke out between the police and the protesters.

Triggering a political storm in the state, Suresh, earlier this week. claimed that she disclosed before the court – in her statement under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code – the other people allegedly involved in the smuggling cases and their “degrees of involvement.” She said she had given statements against the CM, his family, Jaleel and some other top bureaucrats.

After her revelations before the media, resulting in recording her Section 164 statement, Vijayan had issued a statement dismissing Suresh’s claims and claims as “baseless”.

Police on Wednesday had lodged a case under Sections 153 (giving provocation with intent to cause a riot) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code against Suresh on the basis of Jaleel’s complaint.

The High Court on Thursday dismissed an anticipatory bail plea jointly moved by Suresh and co-accused in the gold smuggling scam Sarith PS, saying the offences she had been booked for in the FIR were bailable and that the latter was not even an accused in the case.

Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was taken into custody by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) along with another accused Sandeep Nair from Bengaluru on July 11, 2020.

The NIA, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Customs conducted separate probes into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold worth Rs 15 crore from the diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5, 2020.

Several people, including M Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and another ex-employee of the UAE Consulate here, Sarith, were arrested in connection with the case.

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