Kochi: Kerala Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel's explanation regarding receiving the diplomatic parcels that arrived in the name of the UAE Consulate, by breaching protocol was not satisfactory, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has said.
ED director Sanjay Kumar Mishra confirmed that Jaleel would be questioned again after examining his earlier statements. He also dismissed the speculations on Tuesday that Jaleel had been given a clean chit in the case. However, there is no evidence that Jaleel was involved in the gold smuggling racket, the ED said.
The information available so far is that Jaleel was subject to questioning at the ED’s office on Friday. However, the State Police Special Branch has reported that he was questioned the night before also from 7:30pm to 12pm. But the ED has not confirmed this officially.
It is learnt that after the questioning on Thursday, the ED had asked him to appear again at 10am the next day.
The detailed interrogation on Friday was conducted based on Jaleel’s written answers to the questions posed to him on Thursday night. The interrogations on the two days lasted for about eight hours totally.
Although there were rumours that Life Mission CEO U V Jose's statement was also recorded, the ED denied it.
K T Jaleel may find himself in trouble for dealing directly with the UAE consulate as a minister by violating established protocol.
Although the government has been trying to defend him saying he has only been questioned by the ED, investigative agencies suspect smuggling could have happened using his dealings as a cover.
Minister Jaleel’s intervention to distribute the religious texts that arrived through the Consulate and his communications with Swapna Suresh and the Consul General were in violation of a circular issued by the General Administration Department. The circular issued by the protocol section of the General Administration Department warned against such direct transactions.
Jaleel has justified his dealings saying he had spoken to Swapna in her capacity as a Consulate employee. But, Swapna had left the Consulate and she was working in the Space Park under the state government. The minister will, therefore, have to explain what was the purpose of his phone conversations with Swapna.
There are indications that the minister has not followed official procedures in using government facilities to distribute the religious texts that came via the diplomatic channel.
The Enforcement Directorate is now investigating whether the gold that reached Thiruvananthapuram was smuggled to other districts along with the packages containing the religious texts. The minister’s questioning was as part of this investigation.
The CPM has argued that Jaleel was not questioned as a minister and that is why he used a private vehicle to go to the ED office. That is also the reason why the interrogation notice was delivered to his house in Valanchery, the CPM said. However, sources in the Enforcement Directorate said the notice was delivered at his home because the minister was continuously in quarantine.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said Minister K T Jaleel, who had appeared before the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged FCRA violation case, had committed no wrong and the Congress, the Muslim League and BJP were targeting him due to his "political stand."