Row erupts over audio of gold smuggling case accused

Row erupts over audio of gold smuggling accused alleging pressure to issue statement against Kerala CM

Opposition claims this is Left Front's attempts to protect Vijayan from investigation

Swapna Suresh. Credit: PTI photo.

An audio conversation purported to be that of Kerala gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh telling that investigation agencies were pressuring her to give statement against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has triggered a row in Kerala.

While the Kerala police as well as the prison's department launched a probe into the matter, opposition parties alleged that it was a political ploy to defend the Chief Minister in advance.

It was on Wednesday night that the audio conversation came out in which 'Swapna' could be heard saying that central investigation agencies were pressing her to state that she and Chief Minister's former principal secretary M Sivasankar made financial dealings for Vijayan during their trips to UAE and the central agencies also offered to make her an approver in the case.

The issue assumed seriousness especially since Swapna is in judicial remand and Kerala BJP president K Surendran alleged on Wednesday that prison authorities were allowing many influential people to meet Swapna by flouting norms. The audio surfaced hours after prison officials denied the allegation and warned Surendran of legal action.

Director general of prisons Rishi Raj Singh told reporters on Thursday that a deputy inspector general of prisons was probing into it. The police cyber cell was also examining the audio's veracity.

Meanwhile, BJP leader and Minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan alleged that the audio was a political ploy of the Left Front to defend Vijayan, fearing that the ongoing investigations by central agencies would lead to him.