A new set of scandalous “disclosures” hit the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala on Friday. Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the UAE diplomatic channel gold smuggling case, released a fitfully unclear audio tape of a conversation with a purported police emissary.
Swapna claimed that the person, a former journalist-turned-real-estate agent, had posed as a politically influential troubleshooter.
Swapna claimed that he had allegedly used inducement and subtle threats to persuade her to retract the reportedly “damning statement” she had given in a court of law against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Swapna had publicly accused Mr. Vijayan of using the heft of his office to exploit the embassy’s diplomatic channel to smuggle out foreign currency and import “contraband metal” sans Customs inspection during the previous LDF administration. At the time, Swapna was a consulate employee handling Kerala government affairs.
The “police agent” allegedly told Swapna that the government would not take kindly to any attempt to erode Mr. Vijayan’s reputation. The intermediary supposedly counselled Swapna to avoid jail and legal trouble by accepting the State’s inducements and recant her “libellous” assertions.
For one, the envoy allegedly offered to restore her passport, pay her a sizeable amount in cash, and revoke Swapna’s travel ban.
Swapna also alleged, somewhat sensationally, that the person claimed that Mr. Vijayan and CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had channelled their “ill-gotten” wealth to the U.S. via a religious group where the latter was employed briefly as a public relations officer.
Mr. Balakrishnan denied the accusation and pointed to a Congress-BJP conspiracy to sully party leaders. He accused the Opposition of leaning on resurrected lies aired by discredited proxies to unleash anarchy.
Meanwhile, questions swirled around the emissary’s motive and the identity of his “handlers”. The person had claimed that he was nobody’s agent. He had acted in Swapna’s best interests, and they were family friends.
The “agent” claimed he had arrived at Swapna’s office, an alleged Sangh Parivar-run organisation, at the latter’s instance. Swapna proclaimed that she had deliberately trapped the emissary into laying his cards on the table.
Meanwhile, the “revelations” sparked aggressive anti-government protests. Congress workers skirmished with the police and braved water cannons to lay siege to district collectorates. They called for Mr. Vijayan’s resignation. BJP workers too followed suit.
Opposition Leader V. D. Satheesan and State BJP president K. Surendran said the administration had unleashed the might of the State against the accuser instead of countering the charges legally. They demanded a court-monitored enquiry.