THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The ongoing probe into the gold smuggling through diplomatic channels has revealed that the racket, whose member Sarith Kumar was picked up by the Customs department on Sunday, had brought in large quantities of gold in 15 similar operations in the past. Gold was smuggled in through Thiruvananthapuram airport eight times, while the rest of the operations were carried out via Kochi airport, highly-placed sources revealed.
The baggages were received from the airports by Sarith Kumar and Swapna Suresh, marketing liaison officer of the Space Park under the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Ltd. The smuggling of gold through airports in diplomatic pouches was revealed when the Customs seized 30 kg of the yellow metal that was addressed to the UAE Consulate General in Thiruvananthapuram.
A former consulate PRO, Sarith, was assigned to bring eatables for the consulate from the UAE. After the consulate officials said they had nothing to do with the case, the Customs picked up Sarith, who reportedly confessed to his involvement.
Sources in Thiruvananthapuram revealed that Swapna used to travel out of the country frequently and her last trip to Dubai was just prior to the lockdown. In that trip, she was accompanied by a senior IT department official and they had landed at Kochi airport on return, sources added. “Swapna and Sarith, the two suspects, always had a good relationship with top bureaucrats, including those in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).
When the IT department organised a programme for start-ups recently in Kovalam, the two had hosted the event,” said a source. It was her clout that helped her fetch a job in the Space Park as soon as she was fired from the UAE Consulate, sources added.The state intelligence sources said they had given an adverse report on Swapna after a section of officials in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) grew suspicious of her and asked the police higher-ups to carry out a background check.
“But nothing happened as she had the strong backing of a bureaucrat,” said a source in the CMO.The sources added that Swapna’s sister-in-law had petitioned the CMO alleging that she was being tortured by Swapna and her friends, but the complaint was later withdrawn by the woman under pressure from various quarters.