KOCHI/T’PURAM: The revelation that the customs interrogated Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan in connection with the dollar smuggling case had the Opposition up in arms on Saturday, with the leaders demanding his immediate resignation. Alleging it was for the first time in the state’s history that an assembly speaker has had to face such serious allegations, Congress state president Mullappally Ramachandran said it was highly inappropriate for Sreeramakrishnan to continue in his position.
Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala too came down heavily on the speaker, urging him to step down and publicly reveal the details of the interrogation. After the speaker twice failed to appear for interrogation citing medical reasons, the customs questioned him at his official residence for five hours on Friday.
Customs inspects speaker’s Tvm flat
“As the process could not be completed, he has been directed to appear before the agency again. We will issue another notice to him soon,” an official said. Later, officials also inspected his flat at Marutham Royal Wings in Chacka near the airport. The speaker’s office, in a press release, confirmed the interrogation and stated the agency arrived at his residence after seeking his convenience. The speaker had earlier said he was ready to give an explanation on all allegations against him, the statement said.
Though Sreeramakrishnan had taken to Facebook on Friday evening to deny reports of him attempting suicide, he did not mention the interrogation. Later, while inspecting the speaker’s flat, customs officials spoke to his neighbours and collected details of people who had visited the flat. They also seized a hard disk containing CCTV footage over the past year.
The officers may search the apartment once again, a source said. The inspection, which lasted for more than two hours, was carried out in the wake of statements made by gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh and Sarith P S. Sarith had stated that the speaker contacted him and Swapna and invited them to his flat in Thiruvananthapuram, where he gave them a bag containing money to hand over to the UAE consul general. Swapna, who also named Sreeramakrishnan in her statement, said he had shared with her his plans to start a Middle East College in Sharjah.