CPI(M) cadre in Kerala stage protest, march towards Customs offices


Workers of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Saturday hit the streets and marched towards Customs offices in the state capital, Kochi and Kozhikode.

The provocation was a statement about Swapna Suresh, prime accused in the Kerala Gold Smuggling case recorded under Section 108 of the Customs Act, and the 164 statement (given before the Magistrate) filed by Sumit Kumar, Customs Commissioner ( Preventive) in the Kerala High Court on Thursday, which could spell trouble for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, three of his cabinet colleagues and Speaker P.Sreeramakrishnan.

The statement, which surfaced in the media on Friday, read: “Her close connection with the Chief Minister and his principal secretary and a personal staff was also revealed by her. She has also stated with clarity about smuggling of foreign currency at the instance of the Chief Minister and the Speaker with the help of the Consulate. She has also clearly stated about the improper and illegal activities of three Ministers of the State cabinet and the Speaker. She has further stated about the involvement and the kickbacks received by high profile persons from various deals.

“She has stated that she is aware of all these transactions and was a witness to the same as she is well versed in Arabic language and hence was forced to act as the translator between the above said persons and the persons of Middle East origin in all their crucial interactions,” said the statement of the Customs which is before the high court. “The role of the former principal secretary (M.Sivasankar) in acting as the link between the high-profile politicians of Kerala and the UAE Consulate officials as well as some others and in coordinating the illegal financial dealings under the cover of various activities and projects of the state government was also revealed by her,” the statement further said.

On Friday night came another shocker that Sreeramakrishnan has been served a notice by the Customs to appear before them for questioning on March 12.

When this became big news, the CPI-M decided to take the fight into the enemy camp and announced they will protest before the Customs offices in the state.

If this wasn’t enough, came another news on Saturday morning that Vinodhini Balakrishnan, wife of former CPI-M state secretary and politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, has been asked to appear before the Customs on March 10 for questioning on how and where she got an iPhone, believed to have been given by Santhosh Eapen, a close aide of Swapna Suresh.

Not one to take things lying down, Sumit Kumar the Customs Commissioner, wrote in a Facebook post, “A political party trying intimidation will not work.”

Below this post, Kumar has posted posters of the CPI-M asking its cadres to take part in the protest marches to Customs offices.

Joining issue was Union Minister of State for External Affairs V.Muraleedharan – the lone Keralite in the Narendra Modi cabinet. He told the media in the state capital the protesters should march towards the CPI-M party headquarters here, or to the ‘house’ where everything has happened.

“The CPI-M’s routine statement attacking the BJP for using the agencies will not hold water anymore. The UAE Consular General here was provided X category security by the Kerala Government. The centre has no clue about it and do not know for ‘what’ reason was it given,” said Muraleedharan.