Sivasankar let off by NIA after 10 hours of questioning

It is learned that questions faced by Sivasankar on the second day were related to his many phone calls with the accused.

Kochi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) let off senior IAS officer M. Sivasankar on Tuesday after questioning for 10 hours in the gold smuggling case.

The former IT secretary had appeared for questioning at 10 am on Tuesday and was let off by 8.30 pm. On Monday, he was questioned for over 9 hours and was let off at 7 p.m.

On Monday, Sivasankar was questioned by a team led by NIA south zone chief K. B. Vandana. In the evening the IAS officer was asked to remain in Kochi and appear for questioning on Tuesday morning. Following this, Sivasankar stayed at a hotel near the NIA office in Panampilly Nagar.

The NIA had questioned Sivasankar in Thiruvananthapuram for five hours last week and put him on notice to appear at its Kochi office for further questioning on Monday.

It was reported that Sivasankar did not give clear answers to questions on Monday. After comparing the statements of Sivasankar to the statements given by Swapna Suresh and the other accused, the NIA questioned him for the second day.

It is learned that questions faced by Sivasankar on the second day were related to his many phone calls with the accused. Sivasankar reportedly gave a statement that he called Customs department from a number dialled by Swapna.

Sivasankar was a former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Information Technology Secretary before he was removed from the post after the allegations relating to gold smuggling surfaced.

According to reports, the quizzing on Monday mainly involved the details of the phone calls he made and the apartment in the capital city. According to NIA, on July 3 when the gold in diplomatic baggage at the Thiruvananthapuram airport was seized by Customs, Sivasankar had contacted the accused 12 times.

NIA also sought explanation from Sivasankar relating to the flat he arranged for Swapna Suresh, the second accused in the case. NIA and Customs had found the gang hatched conspiracy inside this flat. However, it is reported that no convincing response was obtained from Sivasankar.

During the earlier interrogation also, Sivasankar, though admitted to friendship with the accused, had denied being aware of the gold smuggling. Even after phone call details and circumstantial evidences were shown, he gave no proper replies.

As he holds the same stance, NIA will further proceed in quizzing him on Tuesday finding discrepancies in his statements recorded last week and on Monday.

The NIA needs strong evidence to arrest Sivasankar. Earlier, PS Sarith, first accused in the case, had told the investigation team that Sivasankar was aware of the gold smuggling. Sarith also stated that he had visited Sivasankar at the latter's office.

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