Gold smuggling case: Congress protests across Kerala seeking CM Vijayan’s resignation
The Congress-led opposition in Kerala held protest marches to various district headquarters across the state demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan following allegations by a woman accused in the gold smuggling case that he had carried a bag of currency to the UAE in 2016.
The protest marches turned violent in Kottayam, Kollam, Kannur and Kochi where agitators clashed with the police. The marches were taken out to the offices of the district collectors in various districts.
Addressing the march in Kochi, Opposition leader V D Satheesan said Vijayan is in a panic over the allegation by Swapna Suresh, one of the accused in the case, that the Chief Minister had taken currency to Dubai with the help of a diplomat. “If the allegation is baseless, why can’t Vijayan take legal action against Suresh? She had given a statement as per section 164 of the CrPC. Why can’t the Chief Minister prove that the statement is wrong? He can ensure punishment for Suresh. Instead, the government is threatening the woman who had given a statement in court. Her allegations are very serious, and affect the security of the country,” said Satheesan.
On Thursday, Suresh had alleged that she was under immense pressure to retract her statement and that her life was under threat. She also named a former journalist, Shaj Kiran, as having approached her claiming to be a representative of political higher-ups in the state government before asking her to withdraw her statement. When Kiran refuted the allegation, Suresh said that on Friday evening she would reveal audio tapes of their conversation as evidence of the coercion and threat from police officers.
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It was on Tuesday that Suresh gave a statement before a court in Kochi in connection with a money laundering case, which emerged during the probe into the smuggling of gold via diplomatic cargo to the UAE Consulate. She had also raised allegations against Vijayans’s family.