Kerala Gold Smuggling Case : Did CM of Kerala Ignore the Matter?
Kerala Gold Smuggling Case : In a shocking discovery made in Kerala, over 30 crore worth smuggled gold was found in a cargo, which was for the UAE Consulate-General Officer in Thiruvananthapuram. National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is investigating the matter said that the Gold smuggled was used for terror financing.
How the Kerala Gold Smuggling Case was Busted?
Smuggling of gold is not a Page 1 headline worthy news generally, but what has made this specific incident gain the light of the day is the fact that the seized gold was found in a diplomatic cargo. A diplomatic courier is free from inspections, hence has immunity. This gold reached Thiruvananthapuram last week from Dubai. These diplomatic cargos are not subjected to a thorough examination and get passed easily. The cargo in mention was labelled under confectioneries and bathroom fittings.
Former local PRO for the Consulate-General office in Thiruvananthapuram Sarith Kumar, went to claim the subjected cargo. He claimed to be still working for the Consulate. However, since his appointment was terminated, the consulate had informed Customs that Sarith Kumar no longer works for them. As the custom department was aware of the former local PRO for the Consulate-General’s termination, they inspected the matter further by checking the cargo. This happened under the observation of the officers of the UAE Consulate.
Sarith Kumar was arrested for being involved in the smuggling racket. Two other accused Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair were arrested from Bengaluru. M. Sivasankar, Principal secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as well as Principal secretary IT, was removed last week for his alleged association with Swapna Suresh. There appears to be evidence that he was in telephonic conversation with her.
The investigation is being conducted regarding the smuggling, and other names who had ties with the crime will come up soon.
Smuggling rackets are not uncommon, but the use of a diplomatic shield to smuggle is new and only means that the people behind the racket have in the past completed several missions and took things to a new level. In the past ten months over 150 kgs of Gold has been smuggled in the state. Terror funding refers to the provision of either funds or any kind of support financially to terrorists.
The Gap in price between Dubai and India is about 15%, so profit motive cannot be ruled out in these difficult times.
Both Sarith Nair and Swapna Suresh worked for the USA consulate.
Another arrest has been made, of K T Rameez, who is also said to have been linked with the smuggling. He is said to have invested and distributed the smuggled gold.
How Kerala Government may be involved in this Case?
Terror funding is not entirely uncommon, several laws have been put in place to stop any kind of such activity or money laundering. CPI(M) leader and minister in Kerala government K T Jaleel is found to have been in touch with the main accused of the case, Swapna Suresh. It is learnt that as many as 16 calls were made between CPI(M) leader KT Jaleel and the accused Swapna Suresh.
According to India Today
Calls were made after the consulate general assigned Swapna to coordinate the distribution of food kits. KT Jaleel has also released screenshots of his conversation with the consulate general on the matter.
The involvement of Kerala government in the case is yet not clear, however, the involvement of Principal Secretary’s office does not sound good for the Government. M Sivasankar was the Principal Secretary to Kerala CM and now has been suspended. CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that his government will take action against M Sivasankar if found guilty
This case in Kerala has now gone viral because of the diplomatic cargo, and terror funding links. In such testing times of the pandemic, crimes have reached a high as people have been rendered unemployed due to the failing economy. Smuggling and other things are not entirely uncommon. But terrorist links and diplomatic cargo have pivoted this case to a whole new angle.
In coming days, as the investigation progresses, several new angles and names of several big personalities are expected to be revealed. Kerala Gold smuggling case may put the Kerala government in fix and may even hurt CPI(M) electorally in upcoming Kerala Assembly election 2021.