Gold smuggling case: ED detains Sivasankar, ex-top aide of Kerala CM

Vinson Kurian V Sajeev Kumar Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi | Updated on October 28, 2020

M Sivasankar being taken into custody by ED for questioning in Kochi on Wednesday   -  -

BJP, Congress ask Pinarayi Vijayan to quit

The Opposition Congress and the BJP in Kerala have demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after M Sivasankar, his former Principal Secretary and top bureaucrat, was detained by sleuths of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) at an Ayurvedic hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

Sivasankar was served with summons for further interrogation in Kochi in connection with suspected money laundering in the gold smuggling case. A tired-looking Sivasankar refused to answer questions from journalists as he walked out of the hospital with plain clothesmen in tow, before being whisked away to a waiting car.

BJP state president K Surendran claimed that it had become clear that the needle of suspicion for abetment in the gold smuggling case pointed to the Chief Minister.

Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy said that Pinarayi Vijayan had forfeited his right to continue as Chief Minister in the light of the latest developments.

On Wednesday, the ED had moved in swiftly after it became known that the Kerala High Court had rejected a plea for anticipatory bail moved by Sivasankar.

During the argument of the case, the ED had submitted that Sivasankar was the kingpin in the case and ‘all strings were in his hands’.

The ED suspects that Sivasankar had helped Swapna Suresh conceal vast proceeds generated from the crime in bank lockers and accounts. The latter had allegedly spirited away a part of the booty to Dubai in foreign currency, and Sivasankar had accompanied her on some of the trips.

Meanwhile, Kerala Law Minister AK Balan said that the Opposition Congress and BJP were attempting to politicise the issue ahead of the local body elections.

The Minister clarified that there was no ground or precedent for the Chief Minister to resign merely because a former bureaucrat attached to his office was under a cloud of suspicion. It was the State government that had requested Central agencies to probe the case. It had also extended full support to these agencies.

Published on October 28, 2020

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