Law & Governance

Kerala Gold Smuggling: What Happened So Far

BP World Bureau | Jul 17 2020 11:32:04 AM
Image credits: BP creatives

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala government is currently facing heat over the gold-smuggling case where the NIA is involved and probed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

The 39-year-old P. Sarith Kumar, claiming to be a Public Relations Officer with the UAE consulate, arrived at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport on July 3.

He wanted to collect a heavy carton addressed to an official working at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consular office in Thiruvananthapuram. 

He was arrested a couple of days later by Customs officials for attempting to smuggle gold.

The ministry of external affairs gave consent to the officers of the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate who then opened the 70-kilogram carton in the presence of the acting in-charge of the UAE consulate.

They found an assortment of pipes with 30 kilograms of 24-carat gold, taps, and door handles amidst food items and other electronics.

Reports also revealed that seven air cargo consignments arrived in Kerala. 

Investigations by the Customs officials found that P. Sarith wasn’t currently employed with the UAE consulate. 

Kerala chief minister Pinnarayi Vijayan wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting centre's involvement in the probe. 

The National Investigation Authority (NIA) took up its first gold-smuggling on July 10th.

NIA filed a First Information Report against Kumar, who was already under arrest, and three others — Swapna Suresh, Sandip Nair, and Fazil Fareed when their names were revealed during questioning. 

Eventually, an alleged gold smuggler named KT Ramees was also included in the FIR on July 15.

They were all charged under Sections 16, 17, and 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Kerala bureaucrat M Sivasankar has been suspended over a report submitted as part of a probe showed that he had violated All India Civil Service rules in the gold smuggling case.

The probe was conducted after several allegations emerged of his links with the accused persons in the Kerala gold smuggling case and opposition demanded strong action against him.

Ajit Doval will be leading a multi-agency probe,  Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the Intelligence Bureau (IB), and Enforcement Directorate (ED) besides the NIA and Customs (Preventive) Division.

It is because of concerns regarding conspiracy and commission of a terrorist act by raising funds through gold smuggling to threaten India's economic security and monetary stability.