Gold smuggled into Kerala funded anti-CAA protests? Probe on

The gold was smuggled into Kerala with the help of these organisations which have a strong network in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Published: 24th July 2020 06:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th July 2020 06:42 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: The probe into the gold smuggling through diplomatic channel has assumed a new  dimension with the central agencies launching an investigation to ascertain whether the money made through gold smuggling in Kerala was used to fund protests across the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), and related violence in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

The details TNIE accessed from intelligence officials reveal that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been trailing the funding sources in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE since December 2019 after a few people arrested in connection with riots in Delhi and UP spilled the beans.

A Malayali youth, who was arrested in UP based on specific intelligence inputs from the Kerala Police, is said to have given the agencies some vital information on the funding. Intelligence Bureau (IB) sources said they have identified some organisations in the Gulf countries which funded the anti-CAA protests and violence.

The gold was smuggled into Kerala with the help of these organisations which have a strong network in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“It was found that a few individuals in Kerala have active links with three Gulf-based organisations which were behind funding anti-CAA protests. We’ve analysed the evidence and gold smuggling is one of the fundraising sources,” said a senior intelligence officer.

“The organisations have also been operating in close coordination with a couple of outfits in Kerala that used youth for anti-national activities.”State police chief Loknath Behera said his department was passing on particular details to the central agencies on funding sources.

“We’re also doing a lot of work in the state and sharing whatever information comes our way to the central agencies. Our Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) has a separate unit to monitor terror funding and we’ve been looking into various aspects. The ATS has done quite a lot of work,” said Behera.

The MHA got inputs on specific Kerala-based gold smuggling routes while conducting a detailed surveillance. The diplomatic consignment containing 30kg gold was under the agencies’ radar right from its point of origin. “We’ve been tracking the activities of a few rackets for a while. Though gold smuggling has been taking place through varied channels to Kerala for several years, intelligence inputs specified the activities of a few groups in channelising large consignment of gold from the UAE to Kerala,” an officer said, adding that central agencies were coordinating with Customs unit in Kerala.

The decision by the MHA to rope in NIA to probe the national security angle was taken immediately after the customs confirmed the catch at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport. The NIA registered a case against the accused invoking sections under UAPA and submitted before the court that a detailed probe was required to probe the ‘terror’ funding.

Kabir Taneja, fellow of Observer Research Foundation and an expert in internal security and counter-terrorism, said: “There has to be some concrete evidence both from law enforcement agencies and judicial process if such a claim is being made that these smuggling activities are funding the anti-CAA protests. Unless complete transparent evidence is provided in a court of law, such allegations should be taken with a pinch of salt.”

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