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After ED's affidavit, Sivasankar's custody extended by a day
Kochi, November 11, 2020
A court here on Wednesday extended by a day the ED custody of now-suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar after the Enforcement Directorate submitted an affidavit to say that his custody was required since "he and his 'team' in the CMO office were well aware of the gold smuggling racket" that has rocked Kerala politics.
The new revelation came after prime accused Swapna Suresh, who was arrested in the case of gold smuggling through diplomatic route, allegedly testified before ED officials the other day during questioning in jail in the capital city Thiruvananthapuram.
The ED affidavit was presented in court on Wednesday, the day his custody period was to end.
Incidentally, it is the first time ever since the gold smuggling case surfaced in July that such a damning statement has allegedly come from Swapna, even though Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has maintained that "I do not know anything and none should compare my office with that of my predecessor".
Sivasankar was arrested by the ED on October 29, and he has been in its custody ever since.
The Customs had arrested P S Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, on July 5 for allegedly smuggling 30 kg gold in a diplomatic baggage destined for the consulate.
Swapna Suresh, also a former employee of the UAE Consulate, and her associate Sandeep Nair were arrested by the NIA from Bengaluru.
Vijayan had removed Sivasankar first as his Principal Secretary and then as IT Secretary after it was reported that Swapna and Sivasankar were close friends.
And since then, Sivasankar has been questioned by the Customs, ED and the National Investigation Agency and all through he has maintained that he had no clue about Swapna's smuggling links.
Other revelations include that the suspended IAS officer allegedly knew about the happenings in the CM's pet project Life Mission, where Swapna Suresh reportedly got a commission. In the ED affidavit, it was claimed that Swapna Suresh got a commission of Rs one crore and that was meant for Sivasankar and the amount was seized from her locker.
Under the Life Mission, a housing project in Thrissur to house the homeless came up on land given by the Vijayan government, while the funds came from a UAE-based charity organisation Red Crescent.
Senior Congress legislator VD Sateeshan said the new developments had vindicated what all the opposition has been saying all along.
BJP leader B Gopalakrishnan said that Vijayan's Assistant Private Secretary CM Ravindran too has been summoned by the ED but he is yet to appear on the ground that he had tested coronavirus positive.
"Vijayan is the prime culprit and he along with his close relatives has to be questioned. He cannot get away by merely saying that he did not know anything," Gopalakrishnan alleged.
Congress legislator Shafi Parambil claimed that the "team captain of Sivasankar was none other than Vijayan himself".
Meanwhile, indications are that the central probe agencies very soon are likely to list out two more names from Vijayan's office for questioning.