Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala IT secretary M Sivasankar has been removed from the post of secretary to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday (July 7). The decision of the removal comes in the backdrop of the gold smuggling controversy, where the role of a former woman employee of the IT department is being probed.

In a brief statement on Tuesday, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said Sivasankar has been removed and replaced by Mir Mohammed, another IAS officer, who will hold additional charge.

The removal of Sivasankar comes in the backdrop of the Opposition’s allegations that the role of a woman, who was earlier employed in the IT department was being investigated in the seizure of 30 kg of gold smuggled through "diplomatic baggage" at the international airport.

The Customs had arrested an accused in the case on Monday and is on the lookout for the woman named Swapna, who had been appointed as liaison officer on a six month contract in the Space Park under the IT department.  It is also alleged that Sivasankar has links with Swapna, although the state government has not issued any statement in this regard.

The woman was sacked two days ago, government sources said.

The Opposition Congress and the BJP had trained their guns against the Chief Minister's Office as reports emerged that the woman was appointed in the IT department when a crime branch probe was on against her.

Senior Congress leader, Ramesh Chennithala, had demanded a CBI probe into the incident, and alleged that a "criminal gang" was operating in the CM's office.

He also wanted the chief minister to clarify on allegations of persons from his office trying to interfere in the investigation of the smuggling case.

BJP state president, K Surendran, wanted to know how the woman was appointed in the IT department when she was earlier questioned by the crime branch in another case.

Vijayan had told reporters on Monday that he was unaware of the factors behind her appointment and would look into the matter.