Central agencies probing the sensational gold smuggling case in Kerala are now focusing their probe into the alleged import of holy books to the state from the UAE via diplomatic channel "without proper documentation", official sources said here on Sunday. Highly placed sources said the agencies are probing whether the consignments brought from the UAE "without proper documentation" were the Holy Quran or other smuggled items.
"It appears that it is a huge scandal," a top official probing the case told PTI. Kerala Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel is under the scanner of the central agencies after he publicly claimed that the consignments brought to Thiruvananthapuram during Ramzanmonth contained Holy Quran for distribution in his constituency, officials said.
Earlier, in a social media post, Jaleel had admitted to receiving copies of the Holy Quran from the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. His name had also figured in the call list of Swapna Suresh,the key accused in the sensational gold smuggling case.
Jaleel has said the calls were strictly professional. The agencies said such a cargo came to India "without documentation" even from the place of its origin and that a probe is on to ascertain how the airline transported such a consignment.
The agencies also suspect that there could be smuggled goods among the consignments and it could be an "operation of security service". Since there is no documentation of a confirmed source of origin of the large quantity of consignments, it could be"operation of security service" of a foreign country with a nefarious design, officials said.
"The Airline which had brought the consignment is being questioned. The Customs House agent hired by the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, who had apparently cleared this consignment, is also being questioned", a senior officer said.
Customs, NIA and the Enforcement Directorate are investigating the use of a state government establishment under Jaleel's ministry for transporting the consignment. Asked whether the Minister would be summoned for interrogating in the wake of his admission that the consignment contained Holy Quran, a top Customs official said"prima facie there is a violation of FCRA".
"Illegality has been committed in the case. With the confirmation given by the minister irrespective of the result of the probe being carried out by central agencies, it has already been established that FCRA violation has taken place",the official said. He said the agencies have investigated the role of a lorry driver who had transported the consignment to north Kerala and neighbouring states as also the role of some officials in the establishment under Jaleel's department in the transportation of consignments.
The state protocol officer, responsible for permitting imports through diplomatic baggage, was already interrogated and has clarified that his office had not issued any permission for importing holy books during the last one year, the official said. Jaleel has said he was ready to face any kind of investigation.
"I'm ready to face any kind of probe in the case. I've already clarified that I'm ready to face any kind of investigation by any agency," he had said in a Facebook post. The central agencies ar elearnt to have reported to the Home Ministry about the alleged FCRA violation committed by the Minister.
It is the Home Ministry which takes decisions on which central agency should probe the cases related to FCRA violations, officials said. The issue of the alleged FCRA violation came to light during the probe into the smuggling of gold through diplomatic channel, allegedly a racket being operated from India and abroad.
Several people, including key accused Swapna Suresh,Sandeep Nair and Sarith P S were arrested by the agencies including NIA, Customs and Enforcement Directorate probing the case.