Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (Screengrab, Copyrights: The Indian Express)
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Thiruvananthapuram:

 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday ruled out the suspension, at this point, of IAS officer and his former Secretary M. Sivasankar who presented himself before top Customs officials earlier in the day for questioning over his links with gold scam accused Swapna Suresh.

Responding to questions from the media on the issue, he said: “There are rules and procedures to be followed for it. Let us now wait for the ongoing events and we have also appointed a two-member committee headed by the Chief Secretary after reports have come that he (Sivasankar) was in touch with the controversial woman (Swapna Suresh) on phone. At the moment, there are no grounds to suspend him.”

A three-member team of Customs officials had gone to Sivasankar’s house in the afternoon to serve notice upon him. Sivasankar, present at the house, said he was ready to appear before the officials during the day itself.

Swapna, a former employee of the UAE Consulate, here, is among the four booked by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for allegedly facilitating the smuggling of 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage to Thiruvananthapuram from Dubai on July 5.

Sivasankar ran into trouble after his alleged links with Swapna surfaced. She was on the run after the arrest of her friend and former colleague P.S. Sarith by the Customs.

Later, it was revealed that Swapna and Sivasankar were close and had attended several Kerala government events.

According to Swapna’s call records, which are in possession of the media, she was in touch with Sivasankar and state Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel.

In his response, Jaleel said he always believed she was a secretary at the UAE Consulate General and the calls made were never in untimely hours.

“I received a message from the UAE Consul General on May 27 to discuss handing over of Ramadan kits. He said Swapna would get in touch for further discussions.

“Now that the NIA is probing the case, my doors are open for them. If any staff member of mine had any contact with her, it’s their responsibility. I am not responsible for that,” he said.

The NIA, which had taken over the case on Friday and filed an FIR against the accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, arrested Swapna and Nair from Bengaluru on Saturday for alleged role in the Kerala gold smuggling case.

It brought them back to the state on a transit remand and presented them at an NIA court in Kochi, which sent them to the agency’s custody.

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