Thiruvananthapuram, July 16 (IANS) Visuals from CCTV footage at checkposts and toll gates showing the two prime accused in the controversial gold smuggling case, in which even the office of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is allegedly involved, passing through unchecked indicates that they got help from some quarters to drive almost 350 kms to cross the Kerala border at Walayar enroute to Bengaluru.
What has raised eyebrows is that they drove and crossed several checkposts without being stopped or checked, even as Covid guidelines are in force when the police often chase people and record arrests of people who break Covid norms.
This 350-km drive took place on July 9, two days after the explosive news of gold smuggling in the baggage of the UAE Consulate here first surfaced with the two accused Swapna Suresh and Sandeep on the run.
The car contained more than the accepted number of people who are allowed to travel in a car under the Covid guidelines, with the police always stopping an overcrowded vehicle.
What helped the two accused get away without being stopped was that at that point of time, no probe had been announced by the Kerala Police as it was the Customs department which was conducting the investigation.
The case first surfaced when P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was arrested by the Customs on July 5 when he was facilitating the smuggling of 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage to Thiruvananthapuram from Dubai.
It turned murkier when the name of Swapna, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here and employed with the IT Department, surfaced and her links with the principal secretary of Vijayan, M. Sivasankar, who is also the State IT secretary, were revealed.
Swapna’s proximity to several top officials in the government, police and even the Assembly Speaker P.Sreeramakrishnan has now surfaced and has started to hurt Vijayan very badly.
First Swapna was booted out and then Vijayan quickly removed Sivasankar from both his posts, but it was not enough as the Congress and the BJP went full throttle demanding the suspension of Sivasankar and the resignation of Vijayan.
Both the Congress and the BJP are spearheading widespread protests demanding that Vijayan step down.
It was the Central government which asked the NIA to probe the case, even as the Customs is already on to it.
It was on Saturday, a day after the NIA was entrusted with the case, that Swapna and her friend Sandeep were taken into custody from Bengaluru and are presently in judicial custody.