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NIA permitted to probe Kerala gold smuggling case

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The house ministry on Thursday ordered a probe by Nationwide Investigation Company (NIA) into the Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling case — referring to the latest seizure of 30 kg of the yellow steel from a diplomatic cargo addressed to the UAE consulate-general workplace within the Kerala capital — on the bottom that the “organised smuggling operation might have critical implications for nationwide safety”.

The NIA case, in response to sources, shall be registered beneath Part 15, 16, 17 and 18 of the Illegal Actions (Prevention) Act, 2004, which basically relate to a terrorist act and terror funding. “NIA probe will guarantee an intensive investigation for the reason that case includes an organised racket with worldwide linkages, and was deemed applicable given the implications for nationwide and financial safety of India,” stated an officer. NIA sources stated it’ll begin the probe straight away.

The case has created a flutter in Kerala owing to alleged involvement of a former staffer of UAE consulate-general Swapna Suresh who throughout her stint there was typically seen shifting in key social, political and bureaucratic circles. Actually, after it emerged that she had alleged connections with principal secretary to Kerala chief minister, M Sivasankar, the latter was faraway from the submit on Tuesday.

Swapna Suresh is absconding. She filed for anticipatory bail within the Kerala excessive court docket, claiming that she had contacted the airport officer concerning the cargo on the alleged instructions of prime diplomat within the UAE consulate-general workplace, Rashid Khamis Al Shameli. She stated she was nonetheless working with the consulate beneath “work on request” foundation

The Centre on Thursday handed over the Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case — which has rocked the Kerala government and seen the exit of the principal secretary to the Chief Minister — to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

“(Ministry of Home Affairs) permits NIA to investigate the Thiruvanathapuram Airport Gold smuggling case, as the organised smuggling operation may have serious implications for national security,” a statement from the MHA said.

Sources in the NIA said the agency would register a case only after examining the MHA order. The NIA only probes cases that deal with scheduled offences (those that are covered by special laws, and not the IPC). Customs violations or smuggling are not part of the NIA schedule. In fact, NIA has never investigated a gold smuggling case.

Sources said the agency will have to most likely invoke the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a law that deals with offences related to terrorism. “The smuggling of fake currency is a legitimate inclusion in UAPA as it destabilises a country’s economy. It can be argued that gold smuggling too does the same,” an official said.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan had on Wednesday written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking for an “effective and coordinated” investigation into the incident by central agencies.