Higher education minister KT Jaleel, facing investigation into a suspected role in the gold smuggling case and active participation in the unauthorised distribution of Quran copies meant for the UAE consulate, was quizzed by Customs at its Kochi office for six and half hours.
The minister, who came this time in his official car, unlike on previous occasions when he turned up at the offices of investigating agencies stealthily, was allowed to go after questioning. The Customs officials only said they have recorded the minister’s statement and did not indicate their next course.
The Customs case is Jaleel violated rules by distributing material imported for the use of the UAE consulate without paying duty and misuse of his office for the purpose. He allegedly violated the protocol by getting in touch with the consulate staff without the knowledge of the external affairs ministry.
Jaleel emerged from the Customs office and refused to interact with the media. The minister, however, in a defiant Facebook post, said ‘a thousand agencies doing penance for over ten thousand years’ will not be able to produce any evidence of any misdeed against him.
It suggested the probe agencies were squandering time, trying to trap him and said he was emboldened by the conviction of innocence to make such a claim.
While minister was summoned to answer the distribution of Quran, the investigators were ready with a long list of questions, including his interactions with gold smuggling kingpin Swapna Suresh — the telephone calls, his relations with the consulate, distribution of Ramzan food kits and dates supplied by the consulate.
It is learnt the questionnaire was prepared in Delhi and forwarded to Kochi.
Meanwhile, the ED obtained court permission to question Swapna Suresh in jail over the next two days.