KOCHI: The Customs, which is probing the gold smuggling incident through the Kozhikode airport and subsequent road accident that claimed the lives of five persons last week, has found that the prime suspect Arjun Ayanki, who was earlier associated with the CPM's youth front, was the real owner of the car involved in the gold heist and was leading a luxurious life without any known source of income.
The Customs, which produced Ayanki before the Ernakulam Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offence) court on Tuesday, found that he was the real owner of the car, though the vehicle was registered in the name of C Sajesh, who was dismissed by the DYFI Kannur district secretary on Saturday as its Chembilode area secretary following his links with the gold heist gangs.
This was submitted in the petition filed by the Customs while Ayanki was produced at the lower court.
In its petition, the Customs said it has found that many youngsters are being used by gangs as carriers of smuggled gold. "This trend which is a social menace warrants an in-depth investigation," the petition said.
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The Customs, meanwhile, has also issued summons to Sajesh to appear for interrogation at its office in Kochi on Wednesday. Sajesh was working as a gold appraiser at a CPM-governed Corporative Bank, the customs said. "Though the car in which Ayanki had reached Calicut (Kozhikode) Airport was registered in the name of Sajesh, the investigation revealed that Ayanki was the actual owner of the car and Sajesh was only a benami," the Customs said.
The Customs has sought the custody of Ayanki for 14 days as he was giving "evasive answers" during interrogation on Tuesday. He also destroyed his mobile phone and other identity details before appearing for the interrogation. He told the Customs that he lost his mobile phone in a river while he was hiding from mediapersons who came to report on his car. The car -- a Maruti Swift model -- used by Ayanki was found hidden in the bushes on a hillock near the Pariyaram Medical College hospital on Monday.
"He refused to cooperate with the investigation and has given fabricated answers to the questions raised by the department. The statement of Ayanki is contrary to the statement of Muhammad Shafeeque, the carrier who had deposed that the gold was smuggled for further handing over to Ayanki, who was present at the airport. WhatsApp chats and voice clips prove that he was directly connected with the passenger and was also the mastermind of the smuggling," said the Customs report.
Ayanki claimed that he reached Karipur airport along with his friend Ramees for receiving Rs 15,000 borrowed by Shafeeque. According to him, Ramees had given Rs 15,000 to Shafeeque last year in Dubai. However, Ayanki admitted that he was aware that Shafeeque was arriving at Kozhikode airport with some contraband goods intending to smuggle the same and that he would receive an amount of Rs 45,000 as remuneration when he hands it over to persons concerned outside the airport. Ayanki also deposed that from this amount they would get an amount of Rs 15,000 due to Ramees who had accompanied him.
Meanwhile, Shafeeque was brought to the customs office in Kochi after the court granted him custody for seven days. Shafeeque was lodged at a jail in Manjeri, Malappuram. It was Shafeeque who arrived with the gold consignment at Karipur airport and was intercepted by Customs officials.