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Kerala gold smuggling case: Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair held in Bengaluru

V Sajeev Kumar Vinson Kurian Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on July 12, 2020 Published on July 12, 2020

Bengaluru: Kerala gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair (both in middle) after they were arrested by the National Investigation Agency in Bengaluru, Karnataka   -  PTI

Being brought to Kochi later today

Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, the second and fourth accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case, have been detained by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from Bengaluru on Saturday. The duo was picked up by about 7 pm from a service apartment in Bengaluru.

They are being brought to Kochi later today (Sunday) and will be questioned by the NIA, before being handed over to the Customs department for further interrogation. It is reported that the NIA had zoomed in on their hideout after co-traveller Swapna’s daughter had switched on the mobile phone.

 

Swapna had gone into hiding on July 5 after a diplomatic baggage, addressed to the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram and containing 30 kg of gold worth Rs 14 crore, was seized by the Customs at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

Mystery shrouds slip-out

PS Sarith, the first accused in the case and who was dealing the baggage reportedly on behalf of the UAE Consulate, had been arrested earlier and had confessed to Swapna’s involvement.

However, mystery shrouds the manner in which she and Sandeep gave the slip to the Kerala Police who were hot on their tracks, and crossed the inter-state border defying the triple lockdown in the Covid-19-hit Thiruvananthapuram.

 

The ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government under Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), and the BJP have been trading charges and counter-charges accusing each other of having plotted the exit beyond the border check-posts.

Terrorist financing angle

The LDF said Swapna and Sandeep had left Thiruvananthapuram just before the triple lockdown came into effect and ventured to know how the duo on the run had secured their entry into BJP-ruled Karnataka, and later into an apartment in state capital Bengaluru, from where they were picked up.

 

The NIA in a statement had earlier said that the initial enquiries suggested that the “proceeds of the smuggled gold could be used for financing terrorist activities in the country”. The NIA had slapped various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against the accused.

Meanwhile, a special investigation team of Customs has detained a native of Malappuram for his alleged involvement in the case. The officials reportedly took him into custody from his residence.

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Published on July 12, 2020
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