Kerala gold smuggling case: NIA to investigate terror links

Thiruvananthapuram: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) registered a First Information Report (FIR) in the Kerala gold smuggling case on Friday. The FIR was registered against Sarith Kumar, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, the three persons allegedly involved in the case.

The NIA has charged them with offences under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. This comes a day after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) directed the NIA to conduct a probe.

The Sections under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act deal with raising funds for terrorist activities and conspiracies. The NIA will probe whether the gold smuggling was linked to activities detrimental to national security.

According to the NIA, the money from the smuggled gold may be meant for terrorist activities.

On July 5, 30 kg gold worth Rs 15 crore concealed in diplomatic consignment was seized at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport by the Customs Department.

Sarith Kumar, an accused in the case who had previously worked as a public relations officer (PRO) in UAE Consulate-General's office in Thiruvananthapuram, was arrested on July 6 and remanded to 14 days.

Swapna Suresh is on the run after the gold was seized from the airport. Suresh was employed in Space Park and Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITL), which comes under the IT department, a portfolio held by Kerala Chief Minister.

Swapna was ousted after being named an accused in the case.

The authorities in the United Arab Emirates have also launched an investigation in the case to find out who sent the cargo containing gold to the address of UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.

The Embassy said the culprits have not only committed a major crime but also "sought to tarnish the reputation of the UAE mission in India" and they will not be spared.

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