Second phase of Swapna's questioning key to Jaleel's fate in gold smuggling case

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Kochi: The second stage of questioning of Swapna Suresh, the main accused in the diplomatic parcel gold smuggling case, will be crucial in determining the fate of Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel in the case.

Swapna will be questioned again based on the digital evidence obtained from her mobile phone and laptop.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had questioned Swapna while she was in its custody for 12 consecutive days after she was arrested from Bengaluru on July 10, but the agency did not get any statement or evidence against K T Jaleel.

However, after it obtained the results of the cyber forensic examination of Swapna's mobile phone and laptop, the NIA found that Swapna had communicated with Jaleel several times. 

It was following this revelation that the probe team had decided to record the statements of Jaleel to obtain all the details that he knew about the accused in the case, including Swapna Suresh.

The initial assessment of the investigation team is that his statement that he had maintained contact with Swapna only because she had introduced him directly to top officials at the UAE Consulate seems factual.

According to Jaleel, he did not realise that Swapna had a criminal background until her involvement in gold smuggling came to light.

He told the investigators that to the best of his knowledge the diplomatic parcels that were handed over to him from the Consulate contained nothing else except religious texts and he was praying that that should be the case.

Investigating agencies are trying to figure out if anything else was smuggled in the parcels under the cover of religious texts.

The NIA is also examining whether top officials at the Consulate deliberately introduced Swapna to a minister in Kerala to create an opportunity for direct communication.

If the statement given by the minister tallies with the statement of Swapna who will be interrogated again in custody on September 22, it is unlikely that the NIA will call the minister again for questioning.

Meanwhile, investigators are baffled by the resemblance of a voice in a message received on Swapna’s phone in early June, from a phone ID that did not belong to Jaleel,  to that of the minister's. If necessary, the agency will collect Jaleel’s voice sample with his consent and send it for examination after obtaining the permission of the NIA court.    

I can be killed, but I cannot be defeated: Jaleel

Something that is not there cannot be found no matter which investigation agency questions him, minister K T Jaleel has said. 

Even if his opponents can kill him, they will not be able to defeat him, Jaleel said. He doesn’t have to worry about anyone as he knows that he has not committed even the slightest of mistake, Jaleel said. 

He said he sympathises with the media, which provides his travel information live to the protesters who can put his life in danger. 

"The NIA had summoned me to seek my explanations as a witness, but some propagated it as if the agency had called someone to ask for his final wish before he was to be hanged," Jaleel said. When the copy of the NIA notice came out, those who were involved in false propaganda changed tack, he said.

A person who was a total of 19.5 cents of land, a mortgaged house and has no other savings even in bank accounts except for what is left after spending from his and his wife’s salaries doesn’t have to fear anyone, Jaleel said. A public servant who does not own a vehicle or a sovereign of gold has to fear no one except the lord, he said.

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