Anti-national materials smuggled via Trivandrum Airport? Agencies keep tab on aides of accused

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Kochi: Intelligence agencies are investigating if anti-national pamphlets and handbooks were smuggled into the country in the guise of diplomatic parcels after it came to light that gold was smuggled out of the Trivandrum Airport in this manner.

The statements of the accused arrested in the sensational gold smuggling case have also hinted at this possibility.

The NIA court has directed that the case diary of the investigating team be produced before it to ascertain the anti-national nature of the case. The case diary will be submitted to the court on Tuesday in a sealed envelope.

The case diary contains confidential information to establish the gold smuggling racket aided anti-national activities, sources said.

While the defendants argue that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was slapped with extraordinary haste on a simple smuggling case and the investigation was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) due to political reasons, the NIA will demonstrate that anti-national writings were also smuggled in some parcels.

Hariraj questioned

Hariraj, the head of the Air Cargo Agents Association, was questioned by Customs (Preventive) officers in connection with the gold smuggling case.

He was interrogated from 10 am to 5 pm on Thursday at the Preventive Commissionerate. Customs officials said that they were looking into some parts of Hariraj’s statements that were recorded earlier.

The accused in the case — Edakandan Saithalavi, TM Mohammad Anwar, TM. Samju, Abdul Hameed, Pazhedathu Abubacker, CV Jifsal and Humsath Abdusalam — were produced in court after Customs’ questioning and remanded in the district jail.

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Ramees’ interrogation continues

The interrogation of Malappuram native K T Ramees, the main accused in the gold smuggling case, continues. Ramees is a key player in the case registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Investigators believe he is the link between all those who arranged for gold in Dubai, raised money in Kerala to pay for that gold, those who sent that black money to Dubai through the hawala route and those who smuggled the gold into Kerala.

Although his contacts at high levels have surfaced during investigations, intelligence agencies have not been able to gather evidence of their involvement in gold smuggling.

The court has remanded Ramees in NIA’s custody till August 4.

Meanwhile, the Customs Department is continuing with its questioning of Swapna Suresh, the second accused in the case, and P S Sarith Kumar, the first accused. They have been remanded in Customs’ custody till 11 am on Saturday.

Reward for info on gold smuggling

Thiruvananthapuram: The government has decided to reward those providing confidential information regarding gold smuggling to the income-tax department.

The reward will be proportional to the price of gold that will be seized on the basis of the information. An amount of Rs 5 crore has been set aside for this purpose. An order in this regard will be issued next week.

The government estimates that interstate smuggling is widespread because there is no e-way bill for gold.

Currently, goods seized for evading tax are released after collecting the tax and an equal amount as fine as per Section 129 of the GST Act.

If a professional smuggling gang is busted, a case is registered under Section 130 of the GST Act and the smuggled goods are seized. They are then auctioned. Until then, the seized items are kept in the treasury.

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Suspected aides of Swapna, Sandeep being monitored

Thiruvananthapuram: The agencies investigating the gold smuggling case are now keeping a tab on the friends of Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, the two main accused.

The agencies suspect that the group that helped Swapna and Sandeep in the smuggling operations is still active and they are keeping a close watch on those suspected to be a part of it. Some have been questioned in recent days.

The NIA sent Swapna’s husband Jayashankar and her children back to their Thiruvananthapuram home from Kochi on Thursday. They were with Swapna when she was arrested in Bengaluru on July 11.

During questioning, Jayashankar said he had no knowledge of the gold smuggling racket. The agencies may question him again. The NIA also returned the clothes and the  textbooks of Swapna's children that were seized during a raid at her house.

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