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NIA to investigate Kerala gold smuggling case: Home Ministry

NIA to investigate Kerala gold smuggling case: Home Ministry

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 09 Jul 2020, 10:27 pm

Thiruvananthapuram/IBNS: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will investigate the 30-kg gold smuggling case in Kerala, the Union Home Ministry said on Thursday.

The Ministry said such an organised smuggling operation may have serious implications for national security.

"MHA permits 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," the Ministry said in a tweet.

This comes as the Congress earlier in the day sought an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the gold smuggling case in Kerala alleging link with the CPI-M government in the state and that of the Centre.

In a statement issued, AICC media incharge Randeep Surjewala said, "the recent developments in Kerala have highlighted the brazen attitude and high-level access of certain individuals to the highest echelons of the CPI-M State Government in Kerala."

"It is also likely that the individuals involved could not have done what they did, vis-à-vis the audacious smuggling of gold under the watch of the authorities and using diplomatic cargo which enjoys diplomatic immunity, without the support or knowledge of those not just in the State Government but also in the Central Government," he said.

Calling for CBI probe, Surjewala said: "Given the magnitude of the criminal activity, the influential nature of those involved and the wide net of individuals across the Central and State Governments, it is only fitting that the investigation into the entire affair be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation."

On Sunday, customs officials seized 30 kg of gold from a diplomatic package bound for the United Arab Emirates Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram district.

Officials found that former employees of the consulate-general, Swapna Suresh and Sarith Nair, were involved in the gold smuggling. Both of them worked at the consulate general's office until six months ago.

While Nair is in the custody of the customs department, Suresh is reportedly absconding. Officials valued the gold at Rs 15 crore.

Meanwhile, the UAE consulate has denied any knowledge of the smuggling operation and promised to cooperate with the investigation.

In response to the case, The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the matter is under investigation and confirmed that the UAE Embassy has assured of all cooperation.

"The Customs Authorities, following established protocol and procedure, have seized a consignment sent from abroad in the name of an official working in the Consulate General of the United Arab Emirates in Thiruvananthapuram," MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

"Ministry of External Affairs had kept the Embassy of the UAE informed regarding the matter. The UAE Mission has extended all cooperation to the Customs Authorities in examining the said consignment. The matter is under further investigation," he said.

The Congress in Kerala on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the case, and its alleged link with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s top aide M Sivasankar.

Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala, in his letter to Modi, also sought a probe by the Enforcement Directorate.