National Investigation Agency
National Investigation Agency|IANS (File photo)

NIA arrests two more persons in Kerala gold smuggling case

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, August 5, 2020

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said here on Tuesday that it had arrested two more persons as part of its continuing investigations in the Kerala gold smuggling case.

The two persons, who were arrested on August 3, were identified as Sharafudeen, 38, son of Moideen, resident of Perinthalmanna, Malappuram district, Kerala and Shafeeq, 31, son of Abdul Razak, resident of Mannarkad, Palakkad district of Kerala.

A press release from the NIA said the two were arrested "after their roles in the conspiracy and pursuant smuggling of gold through diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram surfaced in investigation".

According to the release, during custodial interview of accused Ramees K. T., "it was revealed that he was aided and assisted by co-conspirators Sharafudeen and Shafeeq in collecting the smuggled gold from arrested accused Sandeep Nair at Thiruvananthapuram and further distributing the contraband among other co-conspirators".

The two men were produced before the NIA Special Court at Ernakulam which remanded them to four days in NIA custody for interrogation, the release said.

With these, the number of persons arrested in the case so far has increased to 12.

IANS adds:

The NIA had found links of the Popular Front of India (PFI) in the case on Sunday following two arrests by the agency on Saturday.

Muhammad Ali Ebrahim and Muhammad Ali were held by the NIA on Saturday after they were found to be part of the conspiracy in the case that has rocked Kerala and has caused a huge dent in the image of Chief Minister Pinarai Vijayan after links of a key accused to IAS officer M. Sivasankar, who was Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and well as state IT Secretary, surfaced. Sivasankar was removed from the posts and later suspended.

On July 30, the NIA arrested Jalal A. M. and Said Alavi E. for conspiring with Ramees to smuggle gold through diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate at Thiruvananthapuram.

The NIA arrested two more accused, identified as Mohammed Shafi P. and Abdu P.T., on July 31 for playing similar roles in the crime.

The gold smuggling case first surfaced when P. S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate, was arrested by the Customs on July 5 when he allegedly was facilitating the smuggling of 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage from Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram.

The case became murkier when the name of Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate and later employed with the Kerala government's IT Department, came to light. Her links with Sivasankar came up later during the investigation.

Swapna and co-accused Sandeep Nair of Kochi were arrested by the NIA from Bengaluru after the case was handed over to the agency.