Opposition Ramesh Chennithala urges Kerala Speaker to resign; face the music

Swapna Suresh and Sarith have released statements against P Sreemarkrishnan in connection with the gold and dollar smuggling case
Sarith; P Sreemarkrishnan; Swapna Suresh
Sarith; P Sreemarkrishnan; Swapna Suresh

Kerala Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala urged Speaker P Sreemarkrishnan to hand in his resignation and face the music. Swapna Suresh the prime accused in Kerala Gold Smuggling Case had released a statement against the speaker yesterday. According to her statement submitted following ED’s plea in the High Court, the speaker had plans to start an educational institution abroad. She said that during the visit of the ruler of Sharjah to Thiruvananthapuram, Sriramakrishnan had requested a meeting be arranged between them. The meeting was held at The Leela Palace, Kovalam, and during the meet, the Ruler of Sharjah is said to have orally agreed to provide free land for the construction of a branch of Middle East College in Sharjah.

Middle East College is supposedly a project by “Sivasankar, Lafeer, Kiran (Dean of Middle East College) and Sreeramakrishnan. Swapna says that the speaker had told her that he had visited Sharjah and had met higher officials for the requirement of the promised land. When asked by the ED if the speaker had any other vested interest in the Middle East, Swapna is said to have replied that he had investments in the Middle East, Oman and that he wanted to spread his wings further. According to Swapna, Sreeramakrishnan also said that she would be the ideal person to manage his projects in the Middle East.

Asked about a conversation between Swapna and Sivasankar, she replied that the latter was talking about ICT Academy, Technopark. She said that according to Sivasankar, Kiran and Lafeer had agreed to partner in a branch of the ICT to be set up in Oman and that Sivasankar had wanted her to close the deal with Kiran.

Meanwhile, the statement of Sarith the other accused in the gold and dollar smuggling case, is also out. He claims that he met the Speaker around January or February 2020 at a flat in Thiruvananthapuram and that the latter had supposedly handed him money in a bag with the Kerala Loka Sabha Emblem. Sarith is said to have been directed to hand the bag marked 'SRK', which had 10 bundle of notes over to the Consulate General of UAE. According to Sarith, the speaker said that the money was a gift to the Consulate General. Swapna is said to have accompanied Sarith to meet him. Custom Officials have supposedly retrieved the empty 'SRK' bag from Sarith's residence during a raid, earlier.

Sarith has given a statement against the UAE consul general. He claimed that it was the UAE consul general, Jamal Hussain Al Zaabi who formed and implemented the gold smuggling plan. According to Sarith, Jamal and Khalid, an accountant, had smuggled gold several times during 2017-18.

After the ED statements came out to the media, Speaker Sreeramakrishnan reacted to the media stating that the allegations are baseless.

The Speaker was earlier accused of having close connections with Swapna Suresh. However, he responded by saying that he knew her as a staff member of the UAE Consulate and that he attended some events based on her invites.

According to Chennithala, further truths would be revealed if Sreeramakrishnan were questioned.

The Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) had staged a walkout during the Kerala Assembly in January when the House rejected the party’s plea for Sreeramakrishnan to resign.

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday moved the Kerala High Court seeking to crush the FIR registered against its officials by Kerala police for supposedly forcing Swapna Suresh to give statements against chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The High Court however said they cannot put a stay on the case but can halt further proceedings till March 30.

The NationWide