Kannur: In a major turn of events, the Customs officers on Saturday searched the houses of T P Chandrasekharan murder case convicts Kodi Suni and Muhammad Shafi in connection with the probe into the gold smuggling through Kozhikode International Airport in Karipur.
The search was conducted on the basis of the statement given by an accused in the case, Arjun Ayanki. Earlier, Arjun had revealed that Kodi Suni and Shafi had helped him snatch smuggled gold. He had also claimed that the murder convicts had helped him hide from the police after the smuggling incident surfaced.
The Customs has also served a notice to Muhammad Shafi for questioning. While Kodi Suni is presently lodged in jail, Shafi is on parole.
The officials first searched Shafi's house and then, visited Suni's house in Chokli. However, the officials returned disappointed as there was no one in the house and it was locked.
The officials have seized a laptop computer and a pen drive from Shafi's house. They also found a star displayed on police uniforms.
The officers also raided the house of Arjun Ayanki at Kappakkadavu in Kannur in his presence, during which a few ATM cards and fake bills were found. However, Arjun remained outside the house during the search.
Customs officers also posed some questions to Arjun’s wife Amala regarding the gold she wore during the wedding but, failing to receive a satisfactory reply, summoned her to their office in Kochi on Tuesday for a detailed interrogation.
They also collected evidence from the river where Ayanki had discarded his phone. They also visited the factory premises where his car, suspected to be used for transporting the smuggled the gold, was fournd.
Customs Superindent V Vivek led the team of officials. According to sources, the Customs have so far identified 30 people in the smuggling gang. More arrested will be carried out soon, sources said.
The gold smuggling incident came to light when a group of smugglers met with an accident in Ramanattukara in Kozhkode district, in which five people lost their lives. According to the police, the incident happened during a chase between two gold smuggling gangs.
On the same day, Customs officials had seized 2.33 kilograms of gold from a Malappuram native named Mohammed Shafeeque Melethil from the Karipur airport in Kozhikode.
According to the officials, Arjun Ayanki maintained close links with the smuggling racket and allegedly went to Kozhikode airport to receive the smuggled gold from Mohammed Shafeeque.
Ayanki is a CPM supporter and is the party's 'Red Volunteer' captain in Kannur with a huge following on social media. He also goes by the moniker 'Facebook warrior' for attacking political opponents in the cyber world. However, the party leadership, both at Kannur and the state level, washed their hands off him after the gold smuggling incident came to light.
Meanwhile, gold worth Rs 1 crore seized at Kannur International Airport on Saturday. The gold was found hidden in the garbage. The team investigating the Karipur case received the information that the gold had reached Kannur.