Police personnel produce Sarith, accused in gold smuggling case, at a special court in Kochi (PTI)
NEW DELHI: The home ministry on Thursday ordered a probe by National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling case — relating to the recent seizure of 30 kg of the yellow metal from a diplomatic cargo addressed to the UAE consulate-general office in the Kerala capital — on the ground that the “organised smuggling operation may have serious implications for national security”.
The NIA case, according to sources, will be registered under Section 15, 16, 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2004, which essentially relate to a terrorist act and terror funding. “NIA probe will ensure a thorough investigation since the case involves an organised racket with international linkages, and was deemed appropriate given the implications for national and economic security of India,” said an officer. NIA sources said it will start the probe right away.
The case has created a flutter in Kerala owing to alleged involvement of a former staffer of UAE consulate-general Swapna Suresh who during her stint there was often seen moving in key social, political and bureaucratic circles. In fact, after it emerged that she had alleged connections with principal secretary to Kerala chief minister, M Sivasankar, the latter was removed from the post on Tuesday.
Swapna Suresh is absconding. She filed for anticipatory bail in the Kerala high court, claiming that she had contacted the airport officer regarding the cargo on the alleged directions of top diplomat in the UAE consulate-general o