The State Prisons and Correctional Department found itself in a spot on Wednesday after gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh told a court in Kochi that she was the target of an influence operation at the Attakulanagara Women’s Prison here.
Rishiraj Singh, Director-General, Prisons, told The Hindu that he had ordered an “informal inquiry” into the allegation.
Swapna, a COFEPOSA detainee, had told the Economic Offences Court in Kochi that a set of persons, possibly jail or police officials, had met her in prison and threatened her against cooperating with the Customs or implicating any higher-ups in the State government.
Swapna claimed she felt intimidated and feared for her safety in prison and that of her family outside. The court had ordered her protection.
Swapna’s averments precipitated a controversy on the eve of the second phase of the local body polls in Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad on Thursday.
Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said in Kozhikode that Swapna’s deposition validated his accusation that the government had endeavoured to employ the power of the State to sabotage the multiple inquiries into the gold smuggling case by deploying compliant police and jail officials to influence suspects and intimidate witnesses.
KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said in Kannur that the people had the right to know the truth about Swapna’s complaint. Mr. Vijayan held the jail and police portfolio. Without official approval, no person could meet Swapna in prison. Mr. Vijayan owed the public an explanation.
An official said several agencies, including the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB), had questioned Swapna in prison.
In the event the Customs demanded a criminal inquiry into Swapna’s averments, the police would be constrained to probe the conduct of the officials who met Swapna in prison.
The probe into the “leak” of Swapna’s purported voice clip damning Central agencies seemed to have made scant progress. The Crime Branch was yet to get the original device used for recording the questionable voice, an official said.