Kerala opposition steps up pressure on CM to quit over gold smuggling case

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Thiruvananthapuram: The opposition parties in Kerala on Wednesday mounted pressure on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to quit after suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar was taken into ED custody, soon after a court rejected his anticipatory bail pleas in the gold smuggling case.

Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala demanded the resignation of the chief minister after the officials of Enforcement Directorate (ED) took Sivasankar into custody from a hospital here.

"Without further justifying Sivasankar, the CM should step down from the post. It was the Chief Minister's Office that made all the moves to protect the accused in the gold smuggling case," he alleged.

Earlier in the day, the Kerala High Court passed order on two separate anticipatory bail pleas filed by Sivasankar apprehending arrest by Customs investigating the smuggling angle and ED probing the money trail in the case, dismissing them.

After the high court passed the order on the matter, BJP state chief K Surendran told reporters that it has now become clear that the CMO intervened in the gold smuggling case.

"When the agencies question Sivasankar, more details will come out. The court order has cornered the Left government in the state.

As the investigation progresses, the involvement of the chief minister and his office will become clear," Surendran said.

Central agencies---National Investigation Agency, Customs and the Enforcement Directorate, are conducting separate inquiries into the seizure of gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore from a "diplomatic baggage" at Thiruvananthapuram International airport on July 5.

Several people, including two former employees of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, Swapna Suresh and Sarith P S, have been arrested by the central agencies in connection with the case.

Meanwhile, Law Minister A K Balan said the government wanted all the culprits in the gold smuggling case to be brought to book and extended support to the central agencies in the probe.

"The chief minister has sought a comprehensive probe by the central agencies on July 8.. We just want the law to take its course.

Also, the agencies have not complained against the state government as we have provided necessary assistance to them for the investigation," Balan told the media.


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