KERALA gold smuggling case becoming murkier; Opposition Leader Chennithala asks CM Vijayan to quit

Why Chhattisgarh has challenged the legality of the NIA Act

With the United Arab Emirates consenting to hand over  Faisal Fareed to the  National Investigation Agency (NIA), more sensational details about the multi-crore  Kerala gold smuggling scam involving influential persons are expected to be revealed. NIA claims Faisal Fareed is one of the prime accused of the smuggling of  230 kg of gold from Dubai through the diplomatic channel for more than 20 times misusing diplomatic baggage sent from UAE to its consulate official in Thiruvananthapuram. He was arrested by the Dubai Police on Friday last. After investigation, Faisal revealed that he had smuggled 230 kg of gold into Kerala. Faisal having business in the UAE is residing with his family in Dubai. He is expected to be handed over to India at any moment. The NIA had requested Interpol to issue a blue corner notice against Faisal. The probe agency has charged Fareed with forgery of documents, terror funding and smuggling. The Indian Embassy has already intimated the UAE government about blocking Faisal’s passport. The scam surfaced after 30 Kg of gold worth Rs 14.82 crore smuggled in a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage was busted by customs in Thiruvananthapuram. Swapna Suresh and P.S. Sarith Kumar, two former employees of the consulate, are the first and second accused in the smuggling case Their contacts are under the scanner of the probe agency. Meanwhile, Ramesh Chennithala Nair, opposition leader in the Kerala  Legislative  Assembly, has demanded that Chief Minister Pinayari Vijayan should be questioned about the case since Swapna Suresh and some other former employees in his office are allegedly involved in the racket. Ramesh Chennithala, also a senior Congress leader, says the State has become “consultancy Raj” after consultant agencies have been appointed against the central CPI-M leadership’s decision, reports The New Indian Express. Chennithala alleged that Sandeep Nair, one of the key suspects in the case, had claimed that M. Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the CM, had helped the suspects in the gold smuggling. Speaking to reporters on July 19, Chennithala alleged that the Chief Minister “has deliberately feigned ignorance about what is happening in his office”. Replying to the allegation of the chief minister that the Opposition has been trying to defame the LDF Government, Chennithala said only if the ruling Government has any image, he can come up with such a claim. They never had that quality to boast about, he said. “Pinarayi had been claiming that those officials who had committed mistakes would be punished. If that’s the case, then Pinarayi should also be questioned. Pinarayi had claimed that he is not aware of what’s happening in his office. CPI-M  Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had said in a television interview that it is surprising that Pinarayi was not aware of his former principal secretary being smart”, said Chennithala. The Opposition Leader also said that the Chief Minister cannot run away from moral responsibility. He also demanded to know from the Chief Minister whether the LDF Government had taken a decision to cancel the consultancy agreement given to London based PricewaterhouseCoopers as there has been a lack of clarity on it. (with inputs from The New Indian Express. Image courtesy: Scroll.in)

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