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Kerala gold smuggling case a terrorist act, says NIA

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on July 10, 2020 Published on July 10, 2020

Police personnel produce Sarith, an accused in the gold smuggling case, at a special court in Kochi, on Thursday   -  PTI

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered an FIR in the case involving smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels via the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, under Sections 16, 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.

An official press release said that the FIR has been registered against four accused persons, viz Sarith PS, Swapna Prabha Suresh, Fazil Fareed, Sandeep Nair and others in connection with the seizure on July 5 of 30 kg of 24 carat gold worth ₹14.82 crore by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Kochi.

 

The NIA said that the consignment was found camouflaged in diplomatic baggage from the UAE, normally exempted from inspection as per the Vienna Convention. It was to be received by Sarith, first accused, who had worked at the UAE Consulate, Thiruvananthapuram, as PRO. Initial investigation by the Customs has revealed that Sarith had received multiple such consignments earlier as well.

As the case pertains to smuggling of large quantity of gold into India from offshore locations threatening the economic activity and national security of the country, it amounts to a terrorist act as stated in the UAPA Act. Since it has national and international linkages and initial enquiries have revealed that the proceeds thereof could be used for financing terrorism in India, the NIA has taken up investigation of the case, the release said.

Speaking to reporters here, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan welcomed the development.

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Published on July 10, 2020
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