Thiruvananthapuram, July 14, 2020-
Several bureaucrats and ministers in Kerala are having sleepless nights as the sensational gold smuggling case is connectes with the terror network. During interrogation of prime accused Swapna Suresh, a former high profile consultant with the Kerala government, her connections with key ministers and bureaucrats have come to fore.
Call Detail Records (CDR) of Swapna’s mobile phone number reveal that the kingpin of the gold scandal was in constant touch with the state’s Higher Education and Minority Welfare Minister, K.T. Jaleel.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has alleged that Swapna and her aide Sandeep Nair had smuggled over 150 kg of gold from abroad, a large part of which was used for terror-related activities.
During investigation, Swapna’s high profile connections also came to light.
Sources said in the past few months, she had telephonic conversations with Jaleel over 16 times. Besides her residence was being frequently visited by ministers and top bureaucrats including then Secretary to CM, M. Sivasankar who was initially questioned by Customs officials in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday afternoon.
Sources informed that a flat near the Kerala Secretariat was the main hub of Swapna’s clandestine operations. This flat, where consignments of gold were reportedly hidden, was visited by smugglers as well as VIPs. The flat was especially chosen to avoid any suspicion of the law enforcing agencies.
Besides this flat, senior IAS officer Sivasankar, allegedly close to Swapna was also frequenting her residence. To corroborate Sivasankaran’s presence in her house, CCTV footage of the residential society has been sought.
Meanwhile, Jaleel told the media that he was not aware about Swapna’s shady background. He admitted that he had a conversation with Swapna but the calls were related to Ramadan food relief kits. “I had called the UAE Consul General who suggested contacting Swapna for distribution of relief kits. Swapna was an official of the UAE Consulate,” Jaleel told the media.
The Minister feigned ignorance about Swapna’s assignments in the Kerala government.
NIA sources said that both Swapna and one of her accomplices, Sarith were once employees of the UAE Consulate but resigned due to unknown reasons. While working with the Consulate, they came to know about movement of the diplomatic baggage at the airport. Later, they hatched a conspiracy with Sandeep, and got involved in smuggling gold in large quantities through help of their VIP contacts. Since July 2019, the gang has smuggled more than 150 kg of gold.
In the last two attempts, the gang smuggled 9 kg and 18 kg of gold through diplomatic consignments. Recently when they tried to bring 30 kg of yellow metal by the same modus operandi, the customs preventive wing at Thiruvananthapuram airport busted the racket.
Sources said Swapna and Sandeep had forged the UAE Consulate’s emblem to smuggle the consignments. The NIA has seized a bag from Sandeep, and some important documents which indicate a widespread conspiracy to smuggle gold for terror activities. (Agency)
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