Kerala Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan Summoned By Customs On March 12 In Dollar Smuggling Case
Trouble mounted for CPI(M) on Friday as Kerala Assembly Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan was summoned by the Customs on March 12 in connection with the dollar smuggling case. This pertains to the alleged smuggling of 1.9 lakh US dollars by a former finance head of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram to Muscat in Oman. Earlier, the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate grilled Sreeramakrishnan's assistant private secretary K Ayyappan for nearly 9 hours as a part of its probe.
Moreover, the Congress party sought his removal for his alleged involvement in the gold smuggling case. After 4 hours of heated debate on January 21, the State Assembly rejected this motion following which the opposition staged a walkout.
This development comes on a day when gold smuggling scam accused Swapna Suresh levelled serious allegations against Sreeramakrishnan and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan. In an affidavit submitted before the Kerala High Court earlier in the day, Customs and Preventive Commissioner Sumit Kumar claimed that Suresh talked about the smuggling of foreign currency at the instance of Vijayan and the Assembly Speaker with the help of the UAE Consulate. Additionally, he expressed willingness to provide copies of her statement recorded under Section 144 of the CrPC.
Kochi: Customs Department summons Kerala Assembly Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan for Dollar Smuggling case on March 12 #Kerala- ANI (@ANI) March 5, 2021
Kerala government faces heat
The Vijayan-led government in Kerala has also been facing heat in the gold smuggling scam ahead of the Assembly polls. On July 5, 2020, Customs officials seized 30 kg of gold worth Rs.15 crore at the Thiruvananthapuram Airport from a diplomatic cargo addressed to a person in the UAE Consulate. Sarith PS who worked at the UAE Consulate was arrested in this regard. Subsequently, Swapna Suresh, an ex-Consulate employee working as the manager of the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited and M Sivasankar, the ex-Principal Secretary to Kerala CM were also arrested in this case.
In January 2020, the NIA filed a chargesheet before the Special Court. Claiming that the conspiracy started in June 2019, the agency alleged that the aforesaid persons raised funds and smuggled 167 kg of gold between November 2019 and June 2020 through the import cargo addressed to diplomats at the Consulate General of UAE in Thiruvananthapuram. Moreover, it added that the main accused had planned to smuggle more gold from countries such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. Holding them responsible for threatening the "economic security of India", the agency revealed that the probe against absconding persons and others who facilitated the crime is underway.