A fire broke out at the Kerala Secretariat complex in Thiruvananthapuram around 4:45 PM on Tuesday. According to reports, the fire started at the Protocol section which is on the second floor of North Sandwich building in the Secretariat complex. This office is said to be under the NIA scanner in the high-profile gold smuggling case. Interestingly, it is being said that the fire broke out at a time when the National investigation Agency demanded some documents from the protocol officer in connection with the gold smuggling case.
The fire that broke out in the General Administration Department destroyed many files and documents. No casualties have been reported so far. According to P Honey, the Additional Secretary, Public Administration, the fire was caused by a short circuit in the computer.
#Kerala Fire at state secretariat complex at general administration department. Fire brought under control. The section, where fire broke out, close to protocol section, which is under NIA scanner in gold smuggling case. @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/qQHQbStdK9— shaju philip (@shajuexpress) August 25, 2020
P. Honey said, “Only a few files related to rest house bookings were partially burnt. All important files are in e-file format. There is a system to recover such files even if the computer burns down. There have been similar incidents before due to short circuit. Attempts to extinguish the blaze began as soon as it broke out. There is no emergency now.”
Opposition claims it to be a deliberate act by state govt to sabotage investigation into the Kerala gold smuggling case
Soon after the fire broke out, the opposition parties tore into the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government alleging foul play. They claimed that this was done deliberately to sabotage the murky gold smuggling case that has wreaked havoc on the incumbent Kerala State government. Alleging that this was done with the knowledge of the Chief Minister, the opposition parties have demanded a detailed investigation on the issue.
The office was closed the other day claiming that certain officers tested positive for COVID-19. It was set on fire by the government to stop the details of the case from appearing in front of the probe team, claimed BJP state president K Surendran.
However, the Chief Secretary told media that a fair probe will be conducted into the incident.
This is not the first time that the opposition has accused the state government of trying to sabotage the investigation into the Kerala gold smuggling case. Earlier, demanding a CBI inquiry in the case, the Kerala opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala had accused the state government of trying to destroy evidence in the case by changing CCTV cameras in the Secretariat.
NIA confirms prime accused Swapna Suresh had close links with CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s office
It is pertinent to note that a close nexus between Pinarayi Vijayan-led government and Kerala gold smuggling case accused has been unearthed during investigations. NIA had confirmed to the court that prime accused Swapna Suresh had close links with CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s office.
NIA had informed the court that Swapna Suresh had established links with chief minister’s office (CMO) through Pinarayi’s now suspended principal secretary, M Sivasankar, with whom she enjoyed close proximity. NIA court was also informed how M Sivasankar had gone out of the way to appoint Swapna in the Kerala government’s Space Park and he used to advise her on many issues. Last month the call details of Swapna Suresh had also revealed that the accused was in regular touch with Kerala’s Higher Education minister KT Jaleel.