Customs officials on Saturday, 11 July, morning searched an apartment near the Kerala Secretariat, rented by former IT and Principal Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister, M Sivasankar.
Earlier this week, the top bureaucrat was removed from both his posts, as IT Secretary and Principal Secretary to the Kerala CM, after allegations emerged that he was close to Swapna Suresh, one of the accused persons in the gold smuggling case.
On Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, the customs officials inspected the apartment in detail after they took the statement of PR Sarith, an accused in the case who is now under arrest. .
Though it is unclear if the search revealed any crucial evidence in the case, customs officials are expected to record Sivasankar’s statements soon.
According to reports, the bureaucrat used to live at Feather Towers, an apartment complex near the Cantonment Gate of the Secretariat for many years.
According to sources, customs officials wanted to check visitors’ records to see if PR Sarith, Swapna Suresh or Sandeep frequented the place. On Saturday morning, a security guard who used to previously work at the apartment was summoned and taken to the customs office for questioning.
Speaking to the media, Sivasankar said that he welcomed any probe and did not want to comment further on the issue.
The gold smuggling case was exposed early last week after the customs department at the Thiruvananthapuram airport seized 30 kilograms of smuggled gold in a diplomatic baggage, addressed to the wife of a consular official at the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.
Following this, the names of Swapna Suresh, PR Sarith, Sandeep Nari and Hariraj (member of the Air Cargo Association of India) emerged in the case. Allegations were also raised against M Sivasankar being connected to Swapna Suresh.
On Friday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the case and a First Information Report (FIR) was registered under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The case was registered under the UAPA after allegations that those involved in the gold smuggling case were ‘raising funds for terrorist activities’ and had links to the Islamic State.
The NIA also moved the Kerala High Court against the anticipatory bail plea submitted by Swapna in the case.
(The story has been published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)
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