Thiruvananthapuram: The sensational diplomatic gold smuggling case has once again unleashed a political storm in Kerala with the key accused, Swapna Suresh, levelling charges against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family.
Congress party workers protested across the state for the third day on Friday, demanding the Chief Minister's resignation. Congress activists marched to the District Collectorates in different parts of Kerala.
In Kannur, the protesters clashed with the police during the march.
In Kollam, the cops resorted to lathi-charge to disperse Congress and RYF demonstrators during a protest march. Water cannons were also opened at the crowd.
Strong protests were also witnessed in Kochi, Kottayam, Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.
The Opposition is unlikely to offer any solace to the ruling front, despite its leaders clarifying that they would not be parroting all the allegations that Swapna has been making.
Their stand is that if a CBI probe could be recommended against former chief minister Oommen Chandy based on charges levelled by Saritha S Nair, the prime accused in the multi-crore solar panel scam, Pinarayi Vijayan, too, should face the same treatment.
The Opposition has accused the government of trying to gag Swapna by making the Vigilance pick up Sarith in a hurry and registering a case against former MLA P C George. The UDF has been demanding a court-monitored probe since it does not trust the central agencies.
Triggering a political turmoil in the state, Swapna Suresh on Tuesday claimed that she disclosed before the court -- in her statement under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code -- the other people allegedly involved in the smuggling cases and their "degrees of involvement."
She said she had given statements against the CM, his family, KT Jaleel and some other top bureaucrats.
After her revelations before the media, subsequent to recording her Section 164 statement, Vijayan had issued a statement dismissing Suresh's claims and allegations as "baseless".
Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was taken into custody by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) along with another accused Sandeep Nair from Bengaluru on July 11, 2020.
The NIA, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Customs conducted separate probes into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold worth Rs 15 crore from the diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5, 2020.
Several people, including M Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and another ex-employee of the UAE Consulate here, Sarith, were arrested in connection with the case.