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Chartered Flights During Lockdown Helped Uncover Kerala Gold Smuggling Case, Terror Angle

Police personnel produce Sarith, an accused in the gold smuggling case, at a special court in Kochi on Thursday. (PTI)

Police personnel produce Sarith, an accused in the gold smuggling case, at a special court in Kochi on Thursday. (PTI)

The NIA, which had taken over the case on Friday, said that initial inquiries have revealed that the proceeds of smuggled gold could be used for financing terrorism in India.

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Manoj Gupta

The National Investigation Agency has filed a second FIR with terrorism related charges against four people in connection with the bid to smuggle 30 kg gold via diplomatic cargo addressed to the Consul-General of the UAE in Thiruvananthapuram.

The NIA, which had taken over the case on Friday, said that initial inquiries have revealed that the proceeds of smuggled gold could be used for financing terrorism in India.

Officials said that the smuggled cargo was earlier being transported in regular flights, and it only came on the radar of the investigative agency when the smuggling was done through chartered flights because of the coronavirus lockdown.

The FIR has been filed under the stringent UAPA act, and lists offences under conspiracy and commission of terrorist act by raising funds through gold smuggling to threaten the economic security and monetary stability of India.

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FIR filed under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 bu NIA in Kochi, Kerala on July 10, 2020. Image: News18 EXCLUSIVE

The four accused named in the FIR include Swapna Suresh, who worked in Kerala government’s IT department and was previously an employee of the UAE consulate. She was arrested from a Bengaluru hotel on Saturday night after six days on the run.

According to the agency, 30 kg of 24 karat gold worth Rs 14.82 crore was seized at the international airport in Thiruvananthapuram last Sunday. This consignment was camouflaged in diplomatic baggage from UAE that is exempted from inspection, but this consignment was confiscated based on specific inputs. Sarith, who had turned up to receive the consignment, was arrested.

Swapna Suresh and another accused Sandeep Nair have been taken from Bengaluru to Kerala on Sunday. The customs has taken into custody another person from Malappuram related to this case, and sources in the customs department say they have some evidence of their involvement in this case and that he needs to be questioned.


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