Higher education minister K T Jaleel finds himself in deeper trouble as the state protocol office, responsible for permitting imports through diplomatic baggage, clarifying that it has not issued any such permission during the last one year.
Customs, NIA and the Enforcement Directorate are probing the use of government vehicles belonging to an establishment under Jaleel’s ministry for transporting a packet, weighing over 4,000 kg, which, according to the minister, contained Quran imported from the UAE through diplomatic channel.
The investigators are looking at the possibility of the packet being used for smuggling gold or other questionable material. The import took place during the Ramzan month. But the protocol office has clarified that it no permits have been issued to the UAE consulate in the last one year for the import of diplomatic cargo.
The clarification also makes it clear that Swapna Suresh and company had been getting gold smuggled through diplomatic channel Customs-cleared either on the basis of forged documents or without producing any documents at all.
To make things more complicated for K T Jaleel, the import of Quran, which is not eligible for Customs clearance, had occurred in the same manner and during the suspicious period.
Jaleel had been constantly in touch with the UAE consulate, including Swapna Suresh, in connection with the distribution of food packets during Ramzan, which the minister wanted to be organised in his constituency, far from the state capital, where the consulate is located.
The opposition parties have been demanding action against the minister and his resignation for violation of protocol with foreign missions, which explicitly prohibit ministers and officials from interacting with embassies and consulates, except during national days and other such important functions.
It is expected that the investigators would in the coming days record the statement of Jaleel in connection with the use an office under his ministry and its vehicles for distributing food packets as well as transporting the ‘illegal cargo’ carrying religious books.
Jaleel’s ministerial colleague, A C Moideen, minister for local self-government, is also facing heat over his involvement in the construction of houses for flood-affected people using money provided by UAE charity Red Crescent. Swapna Suresh has told the investigators that she received one crore rupees by way of commission in the deal.
Opposition parties have alleged the involvement of Moideen in the deal and claim that he is one of the recipients of commission as construction of houses as part of relief is the responsibility of his ministry.