NIA to probe Kerala gold smuggling case: Home Ministry

NIA to probe Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling case after Home Ministry nod

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency will probe the sensational gold smuggling case detected at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport, the Ministry of Home Affairs informed on Thursday.

The decision was taken following a meeting of top officials with Home Minister Amit Shah.

The incident which involved smuggling of gold in diplomatic baggage "may have serious implications for national security," officials said.

The decision came a day after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his "intervention for an effective investigation" into the seizure of gold worth crores of rupees from a "diplomatic baggage" at the airport in the state capital.

"The MHA permits the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate the Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling case, as the organised smuggling operation may have serious implications for national security," a home ministry spokesperson said.

The gold, weighing over 30 kg, was seized from the "diplomatic baggage" that had landed by air cargo at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport recently from the Gulf.

The NIA will investigate all unsolved gold smuggling cases in Kerala. The agency will also probe the possibility of foreign funded terrorism and illegal activities in the state.

The Customs department has said that it suspected a smuggling syndicate had misused the name of a person who enjoys diplomatic immunity.

Two persons, including a woman, are wanted in connection with the sensational case. Both the suspects are absconding, officials said.

The National Investigation Agency is a state agency established by the Indian Government to combat terror in India. It is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states.

UAE mission extending all cooperation: MEA

India on Thursday said it was keeping the embassy of the United Arab Emirates informed about the case of alleged smuggling of 30 kgs of gold into Kerala and that the mission was extending all cooperation to the customs authorities examining it.

On Wednesday, the UAE said it has launched an investigation into the case.

"The Ministry of External Affairs had kept the Embassy of the UAE informed regarding the matter. The UAE Mission has extended all cooperation to the Customs Authorities in examining the said consignment. The matter is under further investigation," he said.

The UAE embassy, in a statement, said on Tuesday that the culprits not only committed a "major crime" but also sought to tarnish the reputation of the UAE mission in India.

(With inputs from PTI)

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