Sleuths of the NIA, probing the Kerala gold smuggling case, on Tuesday visited the office of an autonomous institution under the state Higher Education department and gathered information on it allegedly facilitating distribution of the Holy Quran brought from the UAE through diplomatic channel. In a related development, a special court in Kochi sent Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling using diplomatic baggage, to four days custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Reaching the Kerala State Centre for Advanced Printing &Training (C-apt) office in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday morning, NIA officials sought details from its employees, including an official and a driver, regarding the distribution of Quran brought from the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, official sources said. The development comes days after Higher Education Minister Jaleel was questioned by the NIA at its Kochi office in connection with the case and the opposition Congress and BJP continued their protests seeking his resignation, alleging that gold was smuggled under the pretext of importing Quran.
Sources in the Central agencies probing the case had claimed that the consignments of Holy Quran were brought toC-apt before distribution at various places using its vehicles. Official sources said the NIA officials gathered information in detail from the C-apt officials on the Quran packets brought from the UAE consulate.
The Kochi court allowed four days NIA custody of Suresh, a former employee of the UAE consulate arrested by the agency from Bengaluru along with another accused Sandeep Nair. The NIA, which earlier once interrogated Suresh, had already informed the court that further custodial interrogation of the accused would be required on the basis of the digital evidences to be obtained.
The agency had said the incriminating materials found in the digital devices is required to be confronted with the accused by taking them into further NIA custody. Meanwhile, Sandeep Nair, another accused, was granted default bail by a Special Court on Economic Offences in the gold smuggling case being investigated by the Customs(Preventive) Commissionerate as it did not file a charge sheet within the stipulated period of 60 days.
However, he will continue to remain behind bars as he is an accused in the terror link of the gold smuggling case probed by the NIA. The smuggling came to fore when Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Kochi, seized 30 kg of gold worth Rs 14.82crore found camouflaged in diplomatic baggage from the UAE on July 5.