The racket of gold smuggling and the operation of the customs department in dismantling such plots have become usual in India as most of its airports have seen the grounds of smuggling of gold, largely from the Gulf countries and Malaysia. When the state of Kerala had witnessed such smuggling on July 5, it hasn't imagined that this plot would exhume dreadful developments of unveiling the unprecedented racket.
The racket of smuggling gold under the diplomatic cover of the consulate of the United Arab Emirates in Trivandrum has directly connected to the state Chief Minister's office and revealed the nexus and involvement of various authorities in the state and all the developments are currently denoting Swapna Suresh, who has been considered as the important accused and has been at large amid the probe carried out by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
According to our sources, the customs department was informed with a tip-off earlier last week that the gold has been getting smuggled from the Arab Emirates to Kerala through the diplomatic cargo of the Arab Emirates Consulate office in Trivandrum. After being altered, the customs consented the approval from the External Affairs Ministry to carry out the search on the parcels and they attained the permission to check the parcels as normally, the goods addressed to the consulates and embassies are free to go from the lens of customs.
The authorities had also investigated the information of the receiver and whereabouts in Kerala. On July 5, the suspected parcel arrived as a diplomatic cargo at the airport through a chartered flight and the parcel carried the description as food items and products for the consulate staff members at the consulate in Trivandrum. The customs seized the parcel and unsealed it and to their shock, they found 30 kilograms of gold worth Rs 13.5 crore in the parcel, and upon finding the racket, the authorities initiated the probe.
Following the probe, one of the public relations officers of the Kerala government Sarith Kumar was arrested in connection to the racket and upon the investigation, the authorities rushed to arrest Swapna Suresh, who was working as a business development manager with Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited. However, after knowing that the authorities were behind her, she has gone absconded and she is still at large.
The developments in the racket had thrown a bombshell to the Kerala Chief Minister's office as Swapna Suresh observed close ties with Sivashankar, one of the principal secretaries to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Sivashankar was also serving as the state's IT secretary through which he has given a job to Swapna Suresh as the business development manager. Swapna's identity has played one of the important roles behind the allegations.
Swapna has joined the UAE Consulate in 2016 and her exposure to the emirates and fluency in Arabic has given her a diplomatic identity through which she built a rapport with the high-level authorities including Sivashankar, the Chief Minister's secretary. Before a year she was fired from the consulate due to the criminal case against her after which, according to our sources, she was given a job as the business development manager by Sivashankar after which she had unbarred entry to the Chief Minister's office.
However, after the revelation of the racket, Sivashankar was sacked from the post of the Chief Minister's secretary and upon the developments of the racket, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier asked the Central government to direct the concern probing agency to probe the racket. Vijayan has denied his knowledge of knowing Swapna. However, there has been an image in which he can be spotted with Swapna.
Following the major racket which the opposition alleged that the Chief Minister has a role, parties including the BJP and Congress had demanded Pinarayi Vijayan to step down from the post of Chief Minister. However, he has denied his involvement and asked the Center to probe the case. On Thursday, the Central government has directed the NIA to probe the matter of gold smuggling. The National Agency has booked Swapna, Sandeep Nair, and Sarith under the grounds of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Swapna Suresh, who enjoyed diplomatic immunity, has moved the anticipatory bail to the Kerala High Court in which she said that she acted upon the direction of the UAE Consulate Officials. However, the court deferred the hearing for Tuesday -July 14. Till now, Swapna Suresh is at large and more shocking revelations are expected to get exhumed after she brought under books, which would likely cause trouble to the ruling government.