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Kerala Gold Smuggling: Unpacking Swapna Suresh’s Allegations Against Kerala CM

Swapna Suresh has claimed that a close aide of the CM spoke to her regarding a 'settlement' in the case.

Published
Kerala Gold Smuggling: Unpacking Swapna Suresh’s Allegations Against Kerala CM
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A political storm is brewing in Kerala over the startling revelations by Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the sensational gold smuggling case, alleging the involvement of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family.

The Thiruvananthapuram Police on Wednesday registered a fresh case against Suresh and politician PC George based on a complaint filed by former higher education minister KT Jaleel. Earlier, Suresh had accused the chief minister of having transported currency to the UAE.

The FIR against Suresh charges her with conspiracy and attempt to trigger a riot. On 9 June, the Kerala High Court dismissed the anticipatory bail plea submitted by Suresh and co-accused Sarith.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Swapna Suresh.

(Image: Altered by The Quint)

A single-judge bench of Justice Viju Abraham dismissed the plea after the public prosecutor's submission that Sarith was not even implicated in the crime, thus making the bail plea unmaintainable.

Suresh deposed before the magistrate court on 6 and 7 June about the involvement of the CM, his wife Kamala, daughter Veena, former minister KT Jaleel, additional private secretary CM Raveendran, and former bureaucrat Nalini Netto, in the case.

Kerala Gold Smuggling: Unpacking Swapna Suresh’s Allegations Against Kerala CM

  1. 1. Explosive Allegations Against Kerala CM

    After spending 16 months behind bars, Swapna was released from jail in November 2021. She recently approached the Special Court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to record her statement under Section 164 of CrPC. She alleged that her life was in danger.

    On 7 June, she explained how her association with the controversy began with a phone call from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's former Principal Secretary M Sivashankar.

    "It all began way back in 2016 when the CM was on a trip to UAE. It was then that Sivashankar contacted me first since I was the secretary in the consulate. He told me the chief minister had forgotten to take one of his bags and it had to be taken to Dubai immediately. We sent the bag to the CM through a diplomat in the consulate. When it was brought to the consulate we found that there was currency in it."
    Swapna Suresh
    Swapna Suresh, the key suspect in the Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case.
    (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

    Suresh claimed that she found out about the contents of the bag only during the baggage scan.

    She also claimed that on many occasions, biryani vessels with heavy metal objects were transported from the house of the UAE Consulate General in India to the residence of the CM.

    She alleged that there are several aspects that have not been investigated despite giving detailed testimonies to central investigating agencies.

    Expand
  2. 2. 'CM's Aide Approached for 'Settlement': Swapna Suresh

    The main accused Swapna Suresh and Sarith are reportedly trying to get anticipatory bail from the High Court. According to a petition filed in the court, Suresh claimed that a close aid to the CM visited her office in Palakkad on 8 June and spoke to her regarding a ‘settlement’ in the case.

    She claimed that the person threatened her with arrest and remand to judicial custody.

    "The chief minister's messenger approached me. A person named Shaj Kiran, reached the Palakkad office and asked me to withdraw my secret statement before 10 am today. He added that he was meeting the CM and DGP at the same time," she told local media channels.

    Main accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh.

    (Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

    She mentioned that it was M Sivashankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Kerala CM, who had introduced her to Kiran in the past.

    Kerala DGP Anil Kant said that Swapna's allegations and the conspiracy around the same will be thoroughly investigated.

    However, on 9 June, Shaj Kiran refuted Suresh’s allegation that he threatened her. He told reporters in Kochi that she has been his close friend. He admitted that he warned Swapna about the consequences of her giving the statement.

    It is to be noted that M Sivasankar, an IAS officer, was removed from the post of Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister’s office, following his alleged connection to Swapna.

    He had also held the post of IT Secretary in Kerala, when Swapna Suresh was appointed as operations manager at KSITL, which falls under the IT department of the state. The chief minister denied the allegations, saying that Suresh was appointed to KSITL without his knowledge.

    Expand
  3. 3. Subjected to Torture and Ridicule, Alleges Swapna Suresh

    Swapna Suresh had also alleged that while she was in jail she was “tortured and mentally harassed” by the senior jail officers which led to to her suffering from a heart attack and fits.

    She reiterated that she had no agenda other than that of a mother seeking a better life for her children.

    “....I was in jail for 16 months. My kids suffered. I lost my job. They were exploiting and manipulating me. Now, I just want to live and raise my kids. Please allow me to do that. Other than that I have no agenda.”
    Swapna Suresh
    RSS backed NGO gives gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh a new job.

    She also stated that her recent disclosure was not meant to defame anyone, nor was it a publicity stunt.

    “I do not believe in politics. I actually never cared who the CM is, now or then. I do not care who is going to rule the state. I also do not believe statements which claim what I said is part of a conspiracy, as I do not have any political or personal agenda,” she said.

    Expand
  4. 4. ‘Attacks Have Started’: Suresh After Vigilance Picks up Sarith

    On 8 June morning, a chain of events played out like the screenplay of a thriller movie starting with Suresh addressing reporters in Palakkad.

    She claimed that her colleague Sarith, also a co-accused in the gold smuggling case, was “kidnapped” by some unknown people because of her revelations against the CM.

    “Earlier you asked what the threat was. Now, it is no longer threats, the attacks have started. HRDS India staff Sarith has been forcefully kidnapped from my home by three to four unknown people. They have started their attacks. Can you imagine that? I only spoke a little, did not speak in detail and already they have become scared. This is a signal of that. They are confessing on their own by indulging in such dirty tactics,” she claimed.

    Swapna Suresh's colleague Sarith, is also a co-accused in the gold smuggling case.

    (Photo: The Quint)

    Later, it was revealed that Sarith PS was picked up by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau of the state police in connection with another case related to the Life Mission project. He was released later.

    After a three-hour-long interrogation, Sarith told media persons that he was neither given any prior notice nor did the officials disclose their identities. He was not even allowed to wear slippers before he was ‘forcibly’ taken away by the officials, he alleged.

    He claimed that he was not quizzed regarding the Life Mission case at all. He was instead repeatedly asked only one question – on whose instructions had Suresh made the allegations, he claimed.

    Expand
  5. 5. CM Dismisses the 'Fake Allegations'

    Calling it a “part of the political agenda,” Pinarayi Vijayan on 8 June hit back at the "unsubstantiated allegations" of currency smuggling made against him.

    Stating that the public will dismiss the "fake allegations" aimed at tarnishing his government, Vijayan said that he has been working for the "comprehensive development and social welfare of Kerala."

    Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan asserted that CAA will not be implemented in the state.

    (Photo: PTI)

    The public had already dismissed this agenda. After an interval, they are making the accused repeat the same statement. There is not even an iota of facts in this allegation. If you think that by spreading these lies, you can destroy the determination of the government and political leadership, I am reminding you that this is a futile exercise."
    Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

    Responding to Vijayan’s allegations, Suresh said that she didn’t have any political or personal agenda.

    “What I stated in the statement as per section 164, had already been shared with the investigating agencies in the past. I am facing a threat and my present employer is also facing several hardships due to this... I have given a statement against CM Vijayan only because there is evidence,” she told media persons on 8 June.

    A 12-member special team of senior officers from the local police, crime branch, and special branch from across the state will probe the conspiracy and rioting charges registered against Suresh.

    Meanwhile, the government has extended the tenure of a one-member fact finding commission led by retired justice VK Mohanan to conduct an inquiry into the allegations raised against the Enforcement Directorate sleuths. The tenure of the commission that had come to a close on 7 May was extended by six months.

    Expand
  6. 6. Accused Hatched a Conspiracy to Provoke People Against the State: FIR

    The former minister KT Jaleel filed the complaint after the Suresh made fresh allegations. Based on his complaint, a case was registered under Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

    “How did she suddenly remember all these things that she didn't raise earlier? She is polishing and modifying the same things that she alleged earlier, with a pinch of masala. We are not scared by any of these things, come whichever central agency,” Jaleel said.

    The FIR alleged that the accused had hatched a conspiracy two months ago with the intention to provoke people against the state government and mislead the workers of various Opposition parties to trigger a riot against the government.

    File image of former Kerala Minister for Higher Education, Welfare of Minorities, Waqf and Hajj KT Jaleel.

    (Image Courtesy: The News Minute)

    Kerala Tourism Minister PA Mohammed Riyas on 8 June said that it was not the first time that Swapna Suresh had made allegations against Vijayan.

    "After the government was formed in 2016, this is not the first time allegations are being made. Chief Minister and party secretary have reacted to this. Our stand is also the same," said Riyas, who is also the son-in-law of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

    Swapna had earlier clarified that she did not have any “personal relationship” with the CM and had only an official association with all the ministers mentioned.

    "With KT Jaleel also it was purely official; he had a very close association and acquaintance with the Consul General then. With ex-Kerala Speaker P Sree Ramakrishnan, we had a good, genuine friendship, family relationship," she had said.

    Expand
  7. 7. Opposition Demands Resignation of CM for Fair Probe

    The Congress party in Kerala demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and a court-monitored probe into the allegation. Youth Congress members in Malappuram, Thrivananthapuram and Thrissur held widespread protests on Thursday, which led to clashes with the police.

    "In the country, such a thing is being heard of for the first time where a Chief Minister is alleged to have smuggled gold in a biryani vessel. We demand Vijayan's resignation. A probe should be ordered under the monitoring of a court. There were lots of agencies which probed this and in the end, it was a settlement between the BJP and the CPI(M). Even the family members of Vijayan were named. This is really shameless and he should quit."
    Congress State President K Sudhakaran

    K Sudhakaran, KPCC president, has demanded CM Vijayan's resignation.

    (Photo: Facebook)

    Members of the Mahila Congress in Thiruvananthapuram gathered in large numbers and made biryani to take a dig at the CM.

    Former Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said his claim has now been vindicated.

    "I had said that Vijayan knew everything and he is the prime accused in this case. No matter what he does to hide this, the truth will emerge. Had a proper probe been done by various central agencies, it would have come out then. Then there were speculations that the BJP and the CPI(M) were hand-in-glove. A fresh probe will bring out everything," he said.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand
The case pertains to the smuggling of 30 kg gold worth about Rs 15 crore through diplomatic channel.

The gold, which was seized on 5 July 2020 in a Kerala airport, was allegedly smuggled in the diplomatic baggage of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram. It is accused that the seal and letter pad of the UAE Consulate General was used to issue fake authorisation letters to facilitate the gold smuggling.

The National Investigation Agency, the Enforcement Directorate and the Customs conducted separate investigations into the racket.

Here is all you need to know about the recent developments in the case.

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Explosive Allegations Against Kerala CM

After spending 16 months behind bars, Swapna was released from jail in November 2021. She recently approached the Special Court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to record her statement under Section 164 of CrPC. She alleged that her life was in danger.

On 7 June, she explained how her association with the controversy began with a phone call from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's former Principal Secretary M Sivashankar.

"It all began way back in 2016 when the CM was on a trip to UAE. It was then that Sivashankar contacted me first since I was the secretary in the consulate. He told me the chief minister had forgotten to take one of his bags and it had to be taken to Dubai immediately. We sent the bag to the CM through a diplomat in the consulate. When it was brought to the consulate we found that there was currency in it."
Swapna Suresh
Swapna Suresh, the key suspect in the Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case.
(Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

Suresh claimed that she found out about the contents of the bag only during the baggage scan.

She also claimed that on many occasions, biryani vessels with heavy metal objects were transported from the house of the UAE Consulate General in India to the residence of the CM.

She alleged that there are several aspects that have not been investigated despite giving detailed testimonies to central investigating agencies.

'CM's Aide Approached for 'Settlement': Swapna Suresh

The main accused Swapna Suresh and Sarith are reportedly trying to get anticipatory bail from the High Court. According to a petition filed in the court, Suresh claimed that a close aid to the CM visited her office in Palakkad on 8 June and spoke to her regarding a ‘settlement’ in the case.

She claimed that the person threatened her with arrest and remand to judicial custody.

"The chief minister's messenger approached me. A person named Shaj Kiran, reached the Palakkad office and asked me to withdraw my secret statement before 10 am today. He added that he was meeting the CM and DGP at the same time," she told local media channels.

Main accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

She mentioned that it was M Sivashankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Kerala CM, who had introduced her to Kiran in the past.

Kerala DGP Anil Kant said that Swapna's allegations and the conspiracy around the same will be thoroughly investigated.

However, on 9 June, Shaj Kiran refuted Suresh’s allegation that he threatened her. He told reporters in Kochi that she has been his close friend. He admitted that he warned Swapna about the consequences of her giving the statement.

It is to be noted that M Sivasankar, an IAS officer, was removed from the post of Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister’s office, following his alleged connection to Swapna.

He had also held the post of IT Secretary in Kerala, when Swapna Suresh was appointed as operations manager at KSITL, which falls under the IT department of the state. The chief minister denied the allegations, saying that Suresh was appointed to KSITL without his knowledge.

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Subjected to Torture and Ridicule, Alleges Swapna Suresh

Swapna Suresh had also alleged that while she was in jail she was “tortured and mentally harassed” by the senior jail officers which led to to her suffering from a heart attack and fits.

She reiterated that she had no agenda other than that of a mother seeking a better life for her children.

“....I was in jail for 16 months. My kids suffered. I lost my job. They were exploiting and manipulating me. Now, I just want to live and raise my kids. Please allow me to do that. Other than that I have no agenda.”
Swapna Suresh
RSS backed NGO gives gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh a new job.

She also stated that her recent disclosure was not meant to defame anyone, nor was it a publicity stunt.

“I do not believe in politics. I actually never cared who the CM is, now or then. I do not care who is going to rule the state. I also do not believe statements which claim what I said is part of a conspiracy, as I do not have any political or personal agenda,” she said.

‘Attacks Have Started’: Suresh After Vigilance Picks up Sarith

On 8 June morning, a chain of events played out like the screenplay of a thriller movie starting with Suresh addressing reporters in Palakkad.

She claimed that her colleague Sarith, also a co-accused in the gold smuggling case, was “kidnapped” by some unknown people because of her revelations against the CM.

“Earlier you asked what the threat was. Now, it is no longer threats, the attacks have started. HRDS India staff Sarith has been forcefully kidnapped from my home by three to four unknown people. They have started their attacks. Can you imagine that? I only spoke a little, did not speak in detail and already they have become scared. This is a signal of that. They are confessing on their own by indulging in such dirty tactics,” she claimed.

Swapna Suresh's colleague Sarith, is also a co-accused in the gold smuggling case.

(Photo: The Quint)

Later, it was revealed that Sarith PS was picked up by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau of the state police in connection with another case related to the Life Mission project. He was released later.

After a three-hour-long interrogation, Sarith told media persons that he was neither given any prior notice nor did the officials disclose their identities. He was not even allowed to wear slippers before he was ‘forcibly’ taken away by the officials, he alleged.

He claimed that he was not quizzed regarding the Life Mission case at all. He was instead repeatedly asked only one question – on whose instructions had Suresh made the allegations, he claimed.

ADVERTISEMENT

CM Dismisses the 'Fake Allegations'

Calling it a “part of the political agenda,” Pinarayi Vijayan on 8 June hit back at the "unsubstantiated allegations" of currency smuggling made against him.

Stating that the public will dismiss the "fake allegations" aimed at tarnishing his government, Vijayan said that he has been working for the "comprehensive development and social welfare of Kerala."

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan asserted that CAA will not be implemented in the state.

(Photo: PTI)

The public had already dismissed this agenda. After an interval, they are making the accused repeat the same statement. There is not even an iota of facts in this allegation. If you think that by spreading these lies, you can destroy the determination of the government and political leadership, I am reminding you that this is a futile exercise."
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

Responding to Vijayan’s allegations, Suresh said that she didn’t have any political or personal agenda.

“What I stated in the statement as per section 164, had already been shared with the investigating agencies in the past. I am facing a threat and my present employer is also facing several hardships due to this... I have given a statement against CM Vijayan only because there is evidence,” she told media persons on 8 June.

A 12-member special team of senior officers from the local police, crime branch, and special branch from across the state will probe the conspiracy and rioting charges registered against Suresh.

Meanwhile, the government has extended the tenure of a one-member fact finding commission led by retired justice VK Mohanan to conduct an inquiry into the allegations raised against the Enforcement Directorate sleuths. The tenure of the commission that had come to a close on 7 May was extended by six months.

Accused Hatched a Conspiracy to Provoke People Against the State: FIR

The former minister KT Jaleel filed the complaint after the Suresh made fresh allegations. Based on his complaint, a case was registered under Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“How did she suddenly remember all these things that she didn't raise earlier? She is polishing and modifying the same things that she alleged earlier, with a pinch of masala. We are not scared by any of these things, come whichever central agency,” Jaleel said.

The FIR alleged that the accused had hatched a conspiracy two months ago with the intention to provoke people against the state government and mislead the workers of various Opposition parties to trigger a riot against the government.

File image of former Kerala Minister for Higher Education, Welfare of Minorities, Waqf and Hajj KT Jaleel.

(Image Courtesy: The News Minute)

Kerala Tourism Minister PA Mohammed Riyas on 8 June said that it was not the first time that Swapna Suresh had made allegations against Vijayan.

"After the government was formed in 2016, this is not the first time allegations are being made. Chief Minister and party secretary have reacted to this. Our stand is also the same," said Riyas, who is also the son-in-law of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Swapna had earlier clarified that she did not have any “personal relationship” with the CM and had only an official association with all the ministers mentioned.

"With KT Jaleel also it was purely official; he had a very close association and acquaintance with the Consul General then. With ex-Kerala Speaker P Sree Ramakrishnan, we had a good, genuine friendship, family relationship," she had said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Opposition Demands Resignation of CM for Fair Probe

The Congress party in Kerala demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and a court-monitored probe into the allegation. Youth Congress members in Malappuram, Thrivananthapuram and Thrissur held widespread protests on Thursday, which led to clashes with the police.

"In the country, such a thing is being heard of for the first time where a Chief Minister is alleged to have smuggled gold in a biryani vessel. We demand Vijayan's resignation. A probe should be ordered under the monitoring of a court. There were lots of agencies which probed this and in the end, it was a settlement between the BJP and the CPI(M). Even the family members of Vijayan were named. This is really shameless and he should quit."
Congress State President K Sudhakaran

K Sudhakaran, KPCC president, has demanded CM Vijayan's resignation.

(Photo: Facebook)

Members of the Mahila Congress in Thiruvananthapuram gathered in large numbers and made biryani to take a dig at the CM.

Former Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said his claim has now been vindicated.

"I had said that Vijayan knew everything and he is the prime accused in this case. No matter what he does to hide this, the truth will emerge. Had a proper probe been done by various central agencies, it would have come out then. Then there were speculations that the BJP and the CPI(M) were hand-in-glove. A fresh probe will bring out everything," he said.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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