The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested two more persons in connection with the Kerala gold smuggling case, taking the total number of arrested accused in the high-profile case to 12, an official said on Tuesday.
Sharafudeen, 38, a resident of Malappuram in Kerala and Shafeeq, 31, from the state’s Palakkad district were arrested on Monday after their roles in the conspiracy and pursuant smuggling of gold through diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate at Thiruvananthapuram surfaced, an NIA spokesperson said.
The agency produced Sharafudheen and Shafeeq in NIA Court here and filed a petition seeking their custody for four days. The court granted the agency three-day custody of the duo till Friday. “We have Rameez, Jalal A M, Shafi, Abdu, Sharafudheen and Shafeeq in custody and have sought custody of Mohammad Ali Ibrahim and Mohammad Ali. They are all Rameez’s associates. All of them, including Rameez, will be interrogated together to get a clear picture about people financing and buying the smuggled gold,” said an NIA officer.
About 200 kg gold, worth over 100 crores, had been sneaked into the country from the UAE, the NIA said today, while countering the bail petition of a key accused in the case. The NIA said using the diplomatic channel process, gold was smuggled around 20 times between November 2019 and January 2020.
The probe agency said the act was intentional, and that the accused Swapna Suresh and Sarith, while working with the UAE consulate, were aware of the possibility of smuggling gold through diplomatic channels as early as June 2019 and they had intimated this to the other accused. Even after Swapna Suresh was removed from the post, she continued to involve herself for the sake of facilitating such subversive activities, according to the NIA.
“The accused colluded and conspired to make use of this channel to smuggle gold along with materials genuinely required by the foreign diplomats at UAE consulate,” the probe agency said.
Swapna Suresh, who had filed the bail petition, alleged she had been implicated in the crime without any basis. She also alleged the case was the offshoot of political rivalry between the state and centre.
The NIA, in its counter to the bail, has said that their deliberate acts of using the diplomatic baggage of UAE as a cover to transport the contraband has affected the friendly relations with the UAE and that they have threatened “monetary stability of India” and that it’s suspected that they used the proceeds for “financing terrorism”.