Kerala

NIA takes up investigation into Kerala gold seizure case

The police disperse protesters when the protest march by Muslim Youth League in Kozhikode on Friday demanding resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the gold smuggling case turned violent.

The police disperse protesters when the protest march by Muslim Youth League in Kozhikode on Friday demanding resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the gold smuggling case turned violent.  

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered a case in connection with the smuggling of gold at the Thiruvananthapuram airport.

The NIA said in a statement that initial enquiries indicated that the “proceeds of the smuggled gold could be used for financing of terrorism in India.”

The 30 kg of gold concealed in imported plumbing material was seized by the Custom officials on July 5 upon inspection of an air cargo consignment addressed to the Consular General of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

NIA registered the case under sections 16, 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, against four persons — Sarith P.S, Swapna Prabha Suresh, Fazil Fareed and Sandeep Nair.

“The aforesaid consignment was found camouflaged in diplomatic baggage from UAE that is exempted from inspection as per the Vienna Convention. The said consignment was to be received by Sarith, who had worked in the UAE Consulate earlier as Public Relations Officer. Initial investigation by Customs Department has revealed that Sarith had received multiple such consignments earlier as well,” the NIA said.

As the case pertains to smuggling of a large quantity of gold into India from offshore locations, threatening the economic stability and national security of the country, it amounts to a terrorist act as stated in section 15 of the UAPA, it said. “Further, as the case has national and international linkages and as the initial enquiries have revealed that the proceeds of smuggled gold could be used for financing of terrorism in India, NIA has taken up the investigation of the case.”

Earlier, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an “effective and coordinated” investigation by “all Central agencies concerned.”

One of the suspects, Swapna Praba Suresh, has moved an anticipatory bail plea claiming she was innocent. She was an employee of the Consulate until the government appointed her marketing liaison officer of the Space Park project under the IT Department’s Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited.

She mentioned in her plea that though she had resigned from the Consulate, she was still working as secretary on “request basis” in view of the COVID-19 situation. Custom officials had named her as a “suspect, and a person of interest.”

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 11:46:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/nia-takes-up-investigation-into-kerala-gold-seizure-case/article32048111.ece

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