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    Gold smuggling: Air India suspends whistleblower
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    Thiruvananthapuram: The travails of an Air India whistleblower official continue as he has now been suspended from service on the charge that he spoke to the media, said his counsel.

    Speaking to IANS, M.R. Abhilash, counsel for the whistleblower, said that the suspension order has been served to his client by Air India.

    "The charge is that he addressed the media on company matters, which is not right," said Abhilash.

    The unexpected suspension comes at a time when the ongoing probe by the Kerala Police's Crime Branch into a fabricated sexual harassment case against the Air India official masterminded by the prime accused in the gold smuggling case involving Swapna Suresh has reached a crucial stage.

    A few Air India officials have already been quizzed in connection with the case while a few others are expected to be called shortly.

    It all started for L.S. Sibu, who was a union leader in Air India and was working as an officer-apron in the Ground Services Department, Trivandrum, in 2014 when he brought to the attention of the CBI, the Central Vigilance Commission and the Prime Minister's Office the financial shenanigans at Trivandrum Airport.

    Starting then, Sibu's life took a turn for the worse, as he was transferred to Hyderabad effective April 2015. He had to wait till June 2015 to know the reason why he was transferred and was shocked to learn that 17 female employees had in a letter levelled complaints of sexual harassment against him.

    Presently on leave, Sibu who is in his hometown here, got a mail from Air India that he has been suspended from service for addressing the media on company matters.

    It was after a few years of a legal battle that the Kerala High Court directed Air India to reinstate him in July 2018, after which he was posted to Hyderabad.

    In another order, the court had then directed the Crime Branch to conduct a detailed probe into the sexual harassment case against Sibu.

    Incidentally, it was only after the gold smuggling case involving Swapna Suresh came to light that Sibu got some relief.

    The Crime Branch investigation unearthed evidence against Swapna Suresh of being the mastermind behind the sexual harassment case and the agency is expected to file a chargesheet shortly as directed by the court.

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