Kerala

NIA to investigate Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling case

Police personnel produce Sarith, accused in the Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling case, at a special court in Kochi, Kerala on July 9, 2020.

Police personnel produce Sarith, accused in the Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling case, at a special court in Kochi, Kerala on July 9, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has given the go ahead to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate the Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling case.

Also read: Kerala gold smuggling case: Swapna Suresh says she acted under instructions from UAE Consulate

The decision came a day after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an “effective and coordinated” investigation by “all Central agencies concerned” regarding the seizure of gold by Customs officials on July 5.

Implications for national security

“The MHA permits the National Investigation Agency (@NIA_India ) to investigate the Thiruvananthapuram Airport Gold smuggling case, as the organised smuggling operation may have serious implications for national security,” a tweet by the Home Ministry spokesperson said.

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

Also read: Gold smuggling case: Kerala CM writes to PM for probe

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

Suspect and person of interest

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

Also read: Gold smuggling: CPI(M), CPI seek Central probe

Earlier, the State government removed M. Sivasankar from the post of Secretary to Mr. Vijayan as he had come under the scanner after the Opposition attempted to associate him and, by extension, the CM’s Office with Ms. Suresh.

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Printable version | Aug 15, 2020 8:15:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/nia-to-investigate-thiruvananthapuram-airport-gold-smuggling-case/article32034490.ece

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