Kerala minister grilled by ED, Opp calls for his head

Thiruvananthapuram

Higher education minister KT Jaleel was questioned by Enforcement Directorate on Friday morning in connection with his alleged role in the import of religious books through diplomatic channels and his possible links with the accused in the gold smuggling case.

The minister was found to have indulged in gross violation of the protocol relating to interactions with foreign missions. He was allowed to go after questioning, which lasted 3 hours, but ED sources indicated he might be called again for further interrogations.

Enforcement Directorate and Customs have also been looking into the possible use of the diplomatic channels for importing unauthorised goods along with the religious books. An obvious angle has been smuggling of gold in the packages containing the books.

The opposition parties, including the BJP and the Congress, have been demanding the resignation of Jaleel, who violated the Constitution by establishing contact with the foreign mission. But the minister has been claiming he was only doing a pious act by helping the consulate to distribute food kits and the religious books and he was ready to be hanged if that was a crime.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala pointed out it was the first time a minister has had to appear for interrogation before an investigating agency and he had no right to continue in office. But he said anything is possible under the corrupt Vijayan government.

The opposition parties, including the Indian Union Muslim League, which the minister once belonged to before he landed up in the CPI-M, had decried Jaleel’s use of religion to defend his conduct.

State BJP chief K Surendran demanded the immediate resignation, saying it is an insult to the people of Kerala that a minister has been summoned by the central agency for questioning.

Meanwhile, the Narcotics Control Bureau has summoned Bineesh Kodiyeri, the son of state CPI-M secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, in the Bengaluru drug racket. Bineesh was found to be close to one of the key suspects nabbed in the crime.

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