M K Madhusoodan
Tiruvananthapuram: When Customs Preventive Unit of Tiruvananthapuram Airport, on July 5, checked a diplomatic baggage (a cargo box) to be delivered to UAE Consulate here, the officials never had any inkling that it contained 30 kg of gold. The baggage which was to be delivered at the Consulate had diplomatic immunity and the baggage does not attract any checks and can be easily be allowed into the country as it was addressed to the Consulate of United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Normally ordinary citizens required to undergo screening by Customs officials or to declare the contents before the officials and only in extreme doubtful cases the baggage have to open. But arriving from UAE naturally had a free entry as the baggage was addressed to and also declared as food items.
But things changed in quick succession. The baggage was claimed by Sarith Nair, a former employee. Several calls landed up at the offices of Customs including those from senior officials of Kerala Government but Customs refused to budge. And their hunch was right. The baggage was not destined to Consulate but to private parties. Sarith Nair, whose identity card seemed fake, was taken into custody, later arrested and remanded to the custody of Customs authorities.
Questioning of Nair revealed that the baggage was to be delivered to Swapna Suresh, who worked under Kerala Government’s Information Technology department under Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan The chief minister’s immediate response was ignorance of any staff called Swapna Suresh under his ministry. How,them, did she flaunt her identity as a senior official in the Government was the question. As things began hotting up with opposition Congress and BJP made a war cry against IT ministry Secretary K Shivashankaran.
As Government faced flak against Shivashankaran, Vijayan was quick to remove Shivashankaran as his IT secretary. And then another revelation: Swapna Suresh was not even a graduate but a school pass. Shivashankaran, who had proximity with Chief minister, appointed Swaona Suresh on his own discretion. He was ciose to of close to Swapna Suresh often visit her flat during late hours. His visits were objected to by fellow flat owners, who also fiiled a police complaint which was immediately compromised following pressure from Shivashankaran to the police.
As Swapna Suresh is absconding the Union government smelt a cover up attempt by Kearala Government as Chief Minister himself got entangled with Sapna Suresh along with his cabinet colleague Finance MinisterThomas Isaac among others besides the Assembly Speaker..
As the CPM cadre and Chief Minister tried to blame opposition parties including Union government for trying to bring bad name to Kerala Government, Union Government announced an investigation by National Investigation Agency as the matter involved relations between two friendly countries.
What is in store for future: As the case stands and involvement of Swapna Suresh, a Kerala Government employee and also claimed as still being employee of Consulate the UAE government has also taken the matte of high priority as episode took serious national security, money laundering, using diplomatic channel for smuggling. If UAE finds anyone guilty, even if the culprit is chief minister, the Gulf country may order for death penalty.