Swapna Suresh
File photo of Swapna Suresh, former consulate employee and state IT department consultant who has emerged as the key suspect in the gold smuggling case, in Kerala. Image Credit: ANI

Thiruvananthapuram: The prime suspect in the recent gold smuggling case in Kerala, Swapna Suresh, who is on the run, has finally broken her silence in an audio message, saying she had no role to play in the matter.

The seizure of 30kg gold from a diplomatic consignment at the Trivandrum International Airport on Sunday has snowballed into a major political controversy in Kerala as the prime suspect, Swapna, a high-profile woman who wears many hats, happens to be close to the ruling Left Democratic Front government in the state.

In the audio which surfaced on Thursday, Swapna said she had no role to play in the smuggling case.

"All what I did was when I was asked by the Consulate on the delay in the baggage getting cleared, I spoke to the Customs. All I did was that, and I have no idea from where the baggage came and what its contents were and such details. The loss in the present controversy is for me and my family and I am in hiding because of fear. I am on the verge of committing suicide as I am being taken to task and I have nothing to do with this smuggling," said a sobbing Swapna.

The Customs made the seizure on Sunday and since then Swapna has been on the run, while her former colleague at the UAE Consulate has been arrested by the Customs. She had earlier worked with the UAE Consulate in the liaison wing.

She has already approached the Kerala High Court which will hear her anticipatory bail plea on Friday.

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M. Sivasankar

Despite having dubious qualifications, Swapna, who happens to be close to the ruling Left Democratic Front government in the state, was holding a high paying job and was very close to senior IAS officer M. Sivasankar, Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and also the state's IT Secretary.

As a quick damage control exercise, Vijayan has shown the exit door to Sivasankar and removed him from both the posts. But the Congress and the BJP have intensified their protests and have asked Vijayan to quit and face the probe.

By now the social media is also flooded with pictures of Swapna where she is seen in the company of Vijayan, and other top brass of the CPI-M, including Kerala Assembly Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan.

"When I was working in the UAE Consulate, my role was to facilitate the administration of the Consular General. My job demanded me to meet many people in power. Whenever VVIPS from UAE came, I also facilitated their visit in Kerala and four other states. That was my job," said Swapna.

Police personnel produce Sarith, accused in gold smuggling case, at a special court in Kochi, Thursday, July 9, 2020. Image Credit: PTI

CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechuri, while reacting to the turn of events, said that Vijayan has already written to the Prime Minister seeking a high level probe into the matter.

"Smuggling gold is a big crime and it's the Centre which has to unravel it. A detailed probe has to be launched to identify all those who are behind this and be punished," said Yechuri.

When asked if the office of Vijayan should also be included in the probe, he replied, "That's the responsibility of the investigating agency."

effigy of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan and Swapna Suresh
Youth Congress members staging a protest while burning an effigy of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan and Swapna Suresh, in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. Image Credit: ANI

CPI State Secretary Kanam Rajendran on Thursday broke his silence and said, "At times, issues will be there and action has already been taken by the CM who removed Sivasankar. We are all surprised as to why the media and others are not trying to find out for whom this gold was meant. You are only interested in other things. This aspect also needs to be probed."

Meanwhile, with Swapna revealing that she only followed up with the request of the Consulate on the status of the baggage, it remains to be seen if the Customs seeks permission from the highest level to find out from the Consulate about her revelations.