New development in the controversial Kerala gold smuggling case on Monday indicated that money received from the illegal operation benefited the Malayalam film industry as well, the NIA probe shows.
This is one of the major developments after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s close top aides were booted out due to their alleged links to key players.
The NIA is also likely to take statements from a few airline staff operating from the airport. Smuggling of gold took place on several occasions in the last one year. One of the beneficiaries was the Malayalam film industry.
The NIA has also taken statements from a Kerala Police official, Jayaghosh. He is the gunman of the UAE Consulate. He was first was reported missing and later traced out in a bushy area near his house. Jayaghosh’s wrist was slashed, apparently in a suicide bid.
The NIA officials met him at the hospital where he is convalescing. They he said he went with P.S. Sarith to the airport to clear the now controversial gold baggage. The baggage was addressed to the UAE Consulate.
He also said he never had a clue of the contents. He learned that it contained gold only after the media reported.
His call records are now out as well. They show a few calls were made between him and the two prime accused, Swapna Suresh and Sarith. The Kerala Police has recorded his statement before a magistrate.
However the NIA will return to take more statements from Jayaghosh, once he is discharged from the hospital.
The gold smuggling case, which has large scale ramifications, first surfaced when Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was arrested by the Customs on July 5. He was facilitating the smuggling of 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage to Thiruvananthapuram from Dubai.
It turned murkier when the name of Swapna, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here and employed with the state IT Department, surfaced. The case turned full circle when their links with senior IAS official M. Sivasankar were unearthed.
He had been suspended and booted out from two key posts – principal secretary to Vijayan and the State IT secretary.
The office of Vijayan has come under a cloud after his former IT fellow, Arun Balachandran, also has been removed from his present top post in the IT department. He has admitted that he had booked a flat in the capital city on the directions of Sivasankar.
The NIA also suspects the gold smuggling was done by the duo using fabricated documents of the UAE Consulate.
The NIA has by now arrested Sarith, Swapna and Sandip, all who had a direct role, while Fareed who is based in UAE has also been picked up by the authorities, after the Indian government cancelled his passport.
The Customs by now have arrested around six people, who they believe have been either the recipient of the smuggled gold or been a facilitator. They were the first agency to probe the case.
Though Vijjayan claims his office is clean, the Congress and the BJP, however, are up in arms despite Covid protocols.
At the same time, Congress party has suspended all open protests and demonstrations following a High Court directive till July 31. The BJP continues to take to the street. On Monday they are observing a ‘black day’ in the state demanding Vijayan’s resignation.