Kerala gold smuggling case: Special NIA court on Sunday sent accused Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair to 14-day remand. They will now go to quarantine centres. Swapna Suresh will go to a quarantine centre in Thrissur district and Sandeep Nair to a quarantine centre in Karukutty in Angamaly. Their COVID-19 test results will be received tomorrow. If they test negative, the court will consider their custody.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday took into custody Suresh and Nair, both on the run, in connection with the bid to smuggle over 30 kg of gold using diplomatic channel through the Thiruvananthapuram international airport. The gold valued at around Rs 15 crore was seized by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Kochi.
Suresh, a former employee of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, and Nair are among the four people booked by the central agency in connection with the case of smuggling of the gold which arrived in a diplomatic baggage at the airport and seized by the Customs on July 5.
The NIA had on Friday registered the FIR under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and said it has taken up the probe as the case has international linkages and as the initial inquiries have revealed the proceeds of the smuggled gold could be used for financing terrorism in India.
Also, as the case pertains to smuggling of a large quantity of gold into India from offshore locations, threatening the economic stability and national security of the country, it amounts to a terrorist act as stated in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The development came two days after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his "intervention for an effective investigation" and after the Union Home Ministry allowed the agency to probe it, saying the incident "may have serious implications for national security".
The news about the two accused being taken into custody came a few minutes after Kerala police chief Loknath Behera constituted a special team to assist NIA and Customs to nab the absconding accused.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)