Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 14 (PTI) The CPI(M) on Monday charged Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan of trying to 'influence' the probe in the gold smuggling case and demanded his resignation.
The party said he had all along been insisting that the bag in which 30 kg of gold was seized by customs officials on July 5 was not diplomatic cargo.
However this had been proved wrong when the Finance Ministry informed Parliament today that it was smuggled through diplomatic baggage and that the Finance Ministry had been informed of it in July, the CPI(M) state secretariat said in a statement.
'Muraleedharan does not have the right to remain in office and should resign. If he refuses to do so, the Prime Minister should remove him from the post,' the party said.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters that Muraleedharan was not functioning as per the position he is holding.
During multiple occasions, Muraleedharan had told the media that the baggage was not a diplomatic one.
The Left party pointed out that even the National Investigation Agency, one of the agencies probing the case, besides the Customs and Enforcement Directorate, had also mentioned in a report in court that the gold was smuggled in a diplomatic baggage.
'Even after all this, Muraleedharan still maintains that the baggage was not a diplomatic one.
The Finance Ministry has also informed Parliament that the External Affairs Ministry gave permission to inspect the bag after confirming that it was a diplomatic one.
The statements by Muraleedharan are to influence the probe in the case,' CPI(M) said.
The party also said that the key accused in the case had given a statement to the NIA that the coordinating editor of a BJP-aligned channel, Anil Nambiar, had asked her to tell the customs officials that the baggage was not a diplomatic one.
'It's also suspicious that some members of the Customs investigation team were removed from the case after he was questioned,' the CPI(M) said.
The party pointed out that the NIA had submitted in court that smuggling had taken place many times, which would not have been possible without the help of higher officials in the Ministry.
It alleged that smuggling through diplomatic channels had become rampant after Muraleedharam assumed office.
The party also alleged that the opposition Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) had joined hands with the BJP to indulge in violent protests to derail the probe and draw attention away from the investigation.
The Customs department had on July 5 seized diplomatic baggage with over 30 kg of gold worth Rs 15 crore and has arrested many people, including former employees of the UAE Consulate. PTI RRT APR RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH