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Union Minister Observes Fast as BJP Seeks to Step up Pressure on Kerala Govt in Gold Smuggling Case

File photo of Union minister  V Muraleedharan (Twitter/ANI)

File photo of Union minister V Muraleedharan (Twitter/ANI)

The Minister of state for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs alleged the chief minister had allowedhis office to be used by those who indulged in "anti-national activities and betrayed the nation."

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: August 2, 2020, 8:18 PM IST
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Union Minister V Muraleedharan on Sunday observed a day-long fast at his residence here demanding the resignation of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the gold smuggling case.

The fast was part of intensifying the BJP's protests against the Kerala government over the recent gold smuggling involving diplomatic baggage. The Minister of state for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs alleged the chief minister had allowed his office to be used by those who indulged in "anti-national activities and betrayed the nation."

"The Chief Minister has betrayed the country by giving away his office to those who indulged in anti-national activities. He must resign. The NIA took up the case after the Customs report that the accused persons have terror links," Muraleedharan said.

The fast was inaugurated by BJP national general secretary P Muralidhar Rao.

The Kerala government has faced criticism after reports emerged that the former IT secretary M Sivashankar had close links with a few accused in the case. The National Investigation Agency and the Customs department are investigating the gold smuggling through diplomatic baggage which came to the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport addressed to the UAE Consulate.

The probe agencies have arrested four, including two former employees of the consulate. On July 5, the customs seized around 30 kg of gold worth Rs 15 crore. So far, sleuths have arrested three, including two former employees of UAE consulate Swapna Suresh and Sarith and six more on Sunday.

One more person is yet to be arrested. The probe agencies have named at least 15 persons.

Amid demands by the BJP and the Congress for Vijayan's resignation, the state government had earlier suspended senior IAS officer Sivashankar as his name cropped up along with Swapna Suresh and the NIA and the Customs have already questioned him for over 23 hours on multiple occasions.

However, they are yet to name Sivashankar officially in any of the matters related to the case.

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