Kerala gold smuggling: NIA to question Minister in next 2 days

Source :IANS
Author :IANS
Last Updated: Tue, Sep 15th, 2020, 17:54:29hrs

New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) Widening its probe into the Kerala gold smuggling case, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is all set to question Kerala Minister K.T. Jaleel in the next two days, officials said on Tuesday.

"We will record the statement of Jaleel in the Kerala gold smuggling case," a senior NIA official told IANS.

The official clarified that he is not named in the case, but the agency wants to question him to know if there was any gold smuggling activity under the guise of distribution of religious texts.

Jaleel, who is the state Higher Education Minister, was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) last Friday. Following this, the opposition Congress and the BJP had demanded his resignation.

The NIA official also said that the anti-terror probe agency is going through the digital evidence it collected so far from the possession of Swapna Suresh, the kingpin in the case, which points fingers to VIPs with whom she was associated with.

Earlier, a team of NIA led by Superintendent of Polic travelled to United Arab Emirates (UAE) to question several other accused named in the case. The official said that a team of NIA officials will once again visit the UAE as part of its probe in the coming days.

The gold smuggling case was unearthed when P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, was arrested by the Customs on July 5 when he was facilitating smuggling of 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage to the state capital from Dubai.

Things turned murkier when the name of Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the Consulate and later employed with the IT Department, surfaced. Later, her links with now-suspended IAS officer M. Sivasankar, then posted as Principal secretary to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan and also the IT Secretary, came to light.

So far, the NIA has zeroed in on 25 accused, of which 20 have been arrested.

--IANS

aks/vd