Kerala Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel, who has been questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the gold smuggling case, had violated protocol and received concessions from the UAE Consulate, leader of opposition in the state Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala alleged on Saturday. The Kerala Congress leader also demanded Jaleel's resignation.
"Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel has been summoned by ED for questioning in the gold smuggling case. He had violated protocol and received concessions from the Consulate, which is against rules. So I feel that he should step down as early as possible," Chennithala told ANI here.
This comes as protests are being held across the state by the BJP, the Youth Congress, and the Yuva Sena against state Cabinet Minister KT Jaleel after his questioning in the matter. Protests were also held earlier Saturday in Kochi by the BJP and Yuva Morcha against Jaleel. During the protest, the demonstrators conducted a march and burned the state minister's effigy. The police were also seen detaining several protestors.
Jaleel was on Friday interrogated by the ED in connection with the gold smuggling case, which is currently also being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Customs department, for over two hours.
On July 5, Customs officials seized 30 kg of gold worth Rs.15 crore at the Thiruvananthapuram Airport from a diplomatic cargo addressed to a person in the UAE Consulate. Sarith Kumar, who worked at the UAE Consulate was arrested in this regard. Reportedly, he told the Customs about the role of Swapna Suresh. The case took a political turn after photos with Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan surfaced. Following the backlash over her appointment, she was sacked by the state government.
Apart from the Customs and the ED, the NIA has also registered an FIR in the gold smuggling case. Various sections of the UAPA were slapped against Sarith Kumar, Swapna Suresh, Fazil Fareed, Sandeep Nair, and others. The NIA has alleged that the smuggled gold was not used for jewellery purposes but for funding terror activities.
(With ANI inputs) (Image credits: PTI)