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Kerala gold smuggling case: Minister KT Jaleel questioned by NIA for entire day

The minister turned up at the NIA office in Kochi at 5:55 am, though the agency had asked him to appear at 9 am, in a move to escape the media glare

Published: 17th September 2020 07:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th September 2020 05:21 PM   |  A+A-

KT Jaleel

Kerala Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel (Facebook photo)

Express News Service

KOCHI: Kerala Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel was questioned by India's premier anti-terror agency National Investigation Agency (NIA) for the entire day on Thursday even as opposition parties led by the Congress undertook statewide protests that led to violence and police lathi-charge in many parts.

The minister who entered the NIA office in Kochi at 5:55 am came out only at 4.57 pm, spending a marathon 11 hours inside the agency's building.

Jaleel was quizzed by the NIA to get details about his links with Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the Kerala gold smuggling scandal. After Swapna's arrest in July, mobile call details retrieved by the NIA revealed that she had contacted Jaleel on several occasions. However, the minister claimed he had contacted her as per the direction of the Consul General of the UAE in Thiruvananthapuram.

The NIA's summoning of Jaleel on Thursday comes a week after he was questioned by another central agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), on two days -- last Thursday and Friday -- for any violation of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).

To prepare for the questioning, the NIA officers had held a meeting with the ED officers on Wednesday at the latter's office here to study the statement given by the minister.

Though the NIA had asked him to appear at 9 am on Thursday, the minister arrived three hours early, a move clearly aimed to escape the media glare. The minister reached Kochi by road from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, from where he started late last night. He halted at the PWD Rest House in Kalamassery in Kochi early this morning to freshen up, before driving to the NIA office.

The minister reached the NIA office in a white Toyota Ethios, which belonged to CPM leader and former MLA A M Yousuf. Wearing his usual attire in public -- a white mundu and shirt and holding a black handbag -- the minister was seen disappearing into the NIA office at Girinagar in the city.

But as the news leaked, protests erupted across the state, with opposition party activists calling for Jaleel's resignation. Scores of Youth Congress and Yuva Morch workers -- the youth wing of the Congress and the BJP -- were injured in the police lathi-charge in several parts of the state.

Sources said the NIA has collected details about copies of the Quran Jaleel received from the UAE consulate which were transported in a government vehicle to various places in Kerala. Jaleel claimed that he had received around 300 copies of the Quran while over 7,500 copies are estimated to have been imported by the UAE consulate.

With protesters choosing to reach the NIA office demanding the minister's resignation, police barricaded the road leading to the anti-terror agency's office in the morning. Over 50 police officials were also deployed to prevent protesters reaching the NIA office. Several activists of the Youth Congress were also arrested and removed from the place.

More from Kerala.

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  • anthony

    Obviously with the Gold smuggling case not making any headway towards the state Govt the central agencies have to now reconcile with Protocol issues. What we are observing is the media to increase their TRP ratings are engaging in a trial by the media and virtually pronouncing Judgement as Guilty even before the trial has begun. The opposition parties are jumping to conclusions without any basis of a fair trial. What is intriguing is that no media house is harping of the role of the Attache in the UAE Consulate in Trivandrum in the Gold smuggling case despite evidence of his involvment. The silence of the UAE Govt is also baffling that not one press release to clarify the role of their Attache in the Consulate to the Gold Smuggling or to the parcels handed over to Minister Jaleel for distribution to our citizens or for that matter on any issue concerning our citizens because of their linkage to the Consulate. Customs/DRI/ED/CBI/NIA/IB/NAU.........NCB !!!!!!
    6 days ago reply
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