Kerala gold smuggling case: NIA sends Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair to 8-Day custody; Probe agency suspects the sale proceeds of the contraband, utilized to fund terrorists

National Investigation Agency arrests one for 2006 Kerala twin ...

National Investigation Agency (NIA) said that proceeds from the Kerala gold smuggling case may have been funneled to fund terrorist activities,  reports  Swarajya citing sources privy to the case.NIA also disclosed that around 150kg of gold was smuggled to Kerala over the past 10 months. The NIA Court on Monday, July 13 remanded key suspects Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair in the agency’s custody till July 21 for probing “the terrorist angle” and suspected terror funding in the case. The agency is likely to invoke provisions of Section 16 and 17 of the UAPA  which prescribes punishment for raising funds for terrorist activities against the accused Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair. Their contacts are under scanner. The Kochi-based NIA court was informed that Swapna Suresh and Sarith Nair, who were previously employees of the UAE Consulate, learn about the movement of the diplomatic baggage and used it as modus operandi to smuggle gold. During the court proceeding, one of the accused Sandeep Nair claimed that the consignment was addressed to a UAE diplomat named Rashid Al Sheimeili. He questioned why the diplomat’s role is not being probed, Swarajya says. The arrest of KT Rameez, a Malappuram-based businessman, by a customs special investigation team in connection with the gold smuggling case, is likely to provide further help the progress of the investigation. Rameez, believed to be a kingpin of the gold smuggling racket in Kerala, was nabbed from his residence at Vettathoor near Perinthalmanna on  Sunday. The agency informed the court that the accused forged seal and emblem of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy to commit the crime. The case has become a major political issue in the southernmost most Indian state eroding the credibility of the Marxist government headed by Pinarayi Vijayan after Swapna Suresh has been identified as one of the accused in the case. She was employed at the Space Park and Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITL) under the IT department held by CM Pinarayi Vijayan. Suresh was on the run ever since the gold was seized. The opposition parties demanded a CBI probe into the matter and raised questions over Suresh’s alleged links with the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO). BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda also claimed that CM Vijayan’s office was linked to the smuggling scandal. Nair was the public relations officer (PRO) in UAE Consulate-General’s office in Thiruvananthapuram. The UAE government has also ordered a probe into the matter claiming that the scandal ‘tarnished’ that country’s image.(picture courtesy: IndiaTV News)

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