THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A minor fire that broke out at the government secretariat here on Tuesday and was promptly put out, ignited a major political controversy, with BJP and Congress alleging sabotage by attempting to destroy evidence in the gold smuggling scam.
The fire broke out in the political section of the general administration department of the secretariat that handles sensitive files, including ones related to the UAE consulate which is part of the ongoing gold smuggling case. The NIA and customs had recently sought certain details from this section and the assistant protocol officer appeared twice before NIA.
According to government officials, the files handled by the section have already been migrated to the e-file system and the question of destruction of the files doesn’t arise.
As news of the fire broke, BJP and Congress leaders rushed to the spot and for around three hours, the secretariat premises turned into a battlefield with opposition workers staging demonstrations and trying to break through police barricades.
Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala, who later met governor Arif Mohammed Khan and sought his intervention to order a probe into the fire, said, “The fire is an organised attempt to destroy all evidence in the gold smuggling case. The files were destroyed as they know that NIA and ED will reach the CMO soon”.
“It’s possible that more files related to the cases got destroyed. There is an attempt to destroy all evidence as the investigators are inching closer to minister K T Jaleel and CM Pinarayi Vijayan,” BJP state president K Surendran, who was arrested for protesting, said.
Initial reports suggested an electrical short circuit as the cause of fire and sources said some files dealing with allocation of rooms in government guest houses and bundles of printed copies of government orders were among those that were burnt in the fire.


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