Swapna Suresh, designated as a “person of interest” by customs authorities in the Kerala gold smuggling case that has pulled Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office into a political firestorm, has applied for anticipatory bail. Claiming innocence, she said she did not have anything to do with the smuggling and was facing a “media trial”.
In the petition filed online before the Kerala High Court, Swapna Suresh said that she had no involvement in the racket uncovered with the seizure of around 30 kg gold worth about Rs 15 core, by the customs department at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 4.
The gold was found in diplomatic baggage linked to the United Arab Emirates consulate in the state.
Swapna Suresh in her anticipatory bail application to the court said that she checked on the cargo with customs on instructions from the Acting Consulate General at the UAE mission in Kerala.
A former employee at the UAE mission and a marketing officer for a firm linked to the Kerala government’s Information Technology department, she said she was associated with the consulate on a “work for request basis”.
Sources in the customs department said, “We have been expecting her to come and explain herself since 5th of July. She hasn’t come till now. Since she has the legal duty to explain being one of the people who showed interest in the package.”
The Kerala Chief Minister’s office was accused by the opposition of links to Swapna Suresh and a senior bureaucrat was removed from the post of principal secretary to Mr Vijayan on Tuesday. The opposition Congress has demanded the Chief Minister’s resignation and announced state-wide protests.
The Chief Minister has refuted allegations of his office shielding anyone saying, “Elections are nearing, government cannot be discredited by creating smoke.”
Mr Vijayan had on Wednesday sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his “intervention for an effective investigation” into smuggling case.
The UAE Embassy in Delhi earlier had tweeted saying an investigation to find out who sent the cargo has begun, and, that “those responsible had not only committed a major crime but also sought to tarnish the reputation of the UAE mission in India” and they will not be spared.
Sarith Kumar, an accused in the case and a former public relations officer of the UAE consulate at Thiruvananthapuram, was arrested on Monday.