Kerala Gold Smuggling: MHA For NIA Probe, Cites National Security
The development comes a day after Vijayan wrote to PM Modi asking for an “effective and coordinated investigation”.
The Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday, 9 July permitted the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate the Thiruvananthapuram Airport Gold smuggling case, citing that the organised smuggling operation may have serious implications for national security.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan welcomed Centre's move and said, "NIA (National Investigation Agency) has started its probe and I hope they will look into past gold smuggling cases also," ANI reported.
The development comes just a day after Vijayan, facing ire over the scandal, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for an “effective and coordinated investigation” into the gold smuggling racket that recently came to light.
The letter by Vijayan had noted that this smuggling attempt is extremely serious, given the attempt to misuse the protection given to diplomatic baggage.
The scandal arose after around 30 kg of gold was seized by customs officials at Thiruvananthapuram from diplomatic baggage, addressed to an official at the UAE consulate in the city.
A former employee of the consulate, Sarith Nair, was arrested when he tried to pick up the baggage using a false ID.
Another former consulate employee, Swapna Suresh is also accused of being involved in the smuggling operation and moved for bail earlier on Thursday, claiming that she had no role in the crime and that she only made a phone call to the Assistant Commissioner of the Customs on the direction on the acting Consular General of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, Rashed Khasmi Ali Musaiqri Al Ashmia.
IAS officer M Sivasankar, the state’s IT Secretary who appointed Suresh, was also Secretary of the Chief Minister’s office – he was removed from this latter post on Tuesday, 7 July.
Meanwhile, Vijayan has been facing heat by the Opposition in Kerala for alleged links to the accused, a claim that has catgorically been denied by him and the state ministers.
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