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Gold smuggling case: NIA allows Sivasankar to go home after 10-hour grilling

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on July 29, 2020 Published on July 29, 2020

M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister, arrives at National Investigation Agency office for further interrogation in the high-profile Kerala gold smuggling case, in Kochi, on Monday   -  PTI

 

Top officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the case of smuggling of gold via the diplomatic route at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport allowed the former top aide of the Kerala Chief Minister to go home after an interrogation late on Tuesday night.

M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, underwent 10 hours of questioning for suspected links with the accused in the case; this was his second successive day of underdoing questioning at the Kochi office of the NIA after a five-hour session on Monday when he had driven down from Thiruvananthapuram.

CCTV footage requisitioned

Even before this, he had been grilled by the Customs for 10 hours in Thiruvananthapuram, followed by the crack team of the NIA, which served notice on him to appear for a further round at its Kochi office, where top officials of the agency from other offices in South India are reported to have joined in.

 

The NIA is learnt to be awaiting CCTV footage from the Government Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram where Sivasankar used to operate from, not only as Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister but also as the State IT Secretary; it was under his watch that second accused Swapna Suresh secured contract employment.

The NIA is apparently seeking to know from the footage how frequently Swapna Suresh and co-accused PS Sarith had gained access to Sivasankar’s office during the past one year during when it suspects that the alleged racket involving them had shipped in the contraband on more than occasion.

Customs remand note

Meanwhile, a remand note issued by the Customs, Kochi, which is conducting a parallel inquiry into the case, had submitted to the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offences), Ernakulam, on July 16 that the first accused PS Sarith revealed to its investigators many facets hitherto unrevealed by him.

Sarith had admitted to the different roles played by different persons, including Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, who had already been remanded to judicial custody by the Special Court for the NIA. Sarith had also revealed the name of KT Ramees, who too has since been remanded to judicial custody.

 

Based on intelligence inputs and investigations, the Customs had summoned Said Alavi, who in turn revealed the name of Mohammad Anwar as collaborator. In their statements, Alavi and Anwar admitted to their roles in the criminal conspiracy and smuggling of huge quantity of gold, and have been arrested.

Detailed investigation needed

According to the Customs, detailed investigation is warranted to identify if more persons are involved in the case, which is a huge threat to the economy and national security. As the value of the seized gold exceeds ₹1 crore, the offences committed are non-bailable, it had submitted.

It is in this context that it has made a request for remanding Alavi and Anwar into judicial custody for 14 days pending investigation, failing which there is a high possibility of them destroying the evidence, intimidating the witnesses, or even absconding.

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Published on July 29, 2020
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