Swapna Suresh.. Image Source: IANS News

Kochi, Aug 11 : An NIA court here on Monday denied bail to Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, though her counsel argued that the charges against her under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act will not stand.

However, the designated NIA court, which went through the case diary while the NIA probe team stood fast on the charges it has filed against her, dismissed her plea.

Last week, the NIA had informed the court that she was very influential and had good contacts in the office of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan - a claim that led him to launch an outburst against the media for two days in succession after it was raised.

After the scam came to light last month and the NIA was handed over the probe, the central agency had arrested Swapna and her associate Sandip Nair from Bengaluru on July 11.

Swapna was later arrested by the Customs and the Enforcement Directorate and has undergone multiple rounds of questioning from all the agencies.

The gold smuggling case was unearthed when P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was arrested by the Customs on July 5 when he was facilitating smuggling of 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage to Thiruvananthapuram from Dubai.

It turned murkier when the name of Swapna, a former employee of the Consulate, and employed with the IT Department, surfaced and more so, when her links with powerful IAS official M. Sivasankar, who held the dual posts of Principal Secretary to Vijayan and state IT Secretary, came out.

The IAS officer was subsequently removed from both posts and then suspended.

As Swapna had informed the court that Sivasankar was her mentor, it remains to be seen if her influence in Vijayan's office was due to her closeness with Sivasankar, or if she had other links also.

The NIA also pointed out that Swapna had huge influence in the UAE Consulate here, as she was being paid a retainer even after she left the job and joined the state-run newly-formed Space Park, mandated to scout for new companies working in the fields of aerospace, at a huge monthly salary.

Incidentally soon after her arrest by the NIA, there were reports that she got this job because of Sivasankar's influence, while her own brother said that he was not sure if she had even passed Class 10.

-- The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text

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