M Sivasankar
M SivasankarIANS (File photo)

Sivasankar sent to ED custody, CPI-M rules out Kerala CM Vijayan's resignation

Kochi, October 29, 2020

The CPI-M has ruled out the resignation of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after his former secretary and senior IAS official M. Sivasankar was arrested and presented before a court here which sent him to a week's custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the gold smuggling case.

The ED has named Sivasankar as the fifth accused in a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, while the others in the list of accused includes the prime accused -- Swapna Suresh, P. S. Sarith, Sandip Nair and Faizal Fareed.

The ED had taken Sivasankar into custody from an Ayurveda institution on Wednesday in the state capital, moments after his anticipatory bail plea was rejected.

Later in the night, his arrest was recorded and on Thursday morning the ED took him to the Ernakulam Principal Sessions Court.

In the court, Sivasankar said he is being harassed by the ED and he was questioned till 1 a.m. and it started again at 5.30 a.m.

He said that he was picked up by the ED while he was on a two-week Ayurveda treatment and he had completed only 9 days' treatment.

The ED pointed out that Sivasankar is not cooperating with the probe. The court after hearing both the sides, handed the top IAS official to the ED for a week's questioning.

The court also asked ED to give him rest for an hour after three hours of questioning besides allowed him to meet his counsel.

Sivasankar was also given permission if the need arises to consult an Ayurvedic doctor.

Across the state on Thursday, various feeder organisations of both the Congress and the BJP are protesting in the streets demanding the resignation of Vijayan.

"Where is Vijayan, he is not to be seen for a few days now. He just cannot wash his hands off. He never ever said a word of ever meeting Swapna and first he said there was a lightning and destroyed the CCTV in his official residence. Much later he was forced to say that he has met Swapna at his official residence. Vijayan knows everything and he cannot remain in hiding," said Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala.

State BJP president K. Surendran dropped another bombshell when he told the media in the state capital that he has solid information that it's just not Sivasankar alone.

"Apart from Sivasankar, two officials in Vijayan's office also have a role in the case. The smuggling gang has visited Vijayan's office and two state ministers also have links with the accused. I say this with full responsibility and this is not just a political allegation," said Surendran and added that Swapna was in UAE when Vijayan was there.

But batting for Vijayan was his close party leader M. V. Govindan who said there is no question of Vijayan resigning.

"That's ruled out and if anyone says about moral responsibility, then it should be PM Modi who has that because Sivasankar is a central service official. Let the present probe go forward, the CPI-M has nothing to fear and the question of resignation is ruled out," said Govindan.

With the arrest of Sivasankar, he has entered the record books by becoming the first serving IAS official in the state to be arrested.

Meanwhile the Customs is also likely to seek the custody of Sivasankar, even as he is expected to move for bail.


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