Defending Education Minister KT Jaleel's alleged involvement in the Kerala Gold Smuggling scandal, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has stated that there is no ground to say that the minister did anything wrong. The Chief Minister informed that Jaleel was interrogated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over a consignment that he had sent to the UAE which contained the holy book of Quran. Vijayan added that Jaleel has done what needed to be done.
"ED interrogated State Minister KT Jaleel about consignment to UAE consulate containing Quran. There's no ground to say he did anything wrong. He is also Minister of Minority Affairs & Waqf. He did what was needed to be done," said CM Vijayan on Monday.
"Some people and organizations are trying to disturb the law and order situation in the state. In Kollam, a car purposely stopped KT Jaleel's vehicle last night. Two Yuva Morcha members have been arrested. These kinds of protests cannot be accepted. Also, there are purposeful attempts to spread fake news," he added.
Furthermore, the CM has informed that to bust fake news, a special state-level police team has been formed. The team will be headed by the Additional Director General of Kerala Police.
On the other hand, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala has demanded the Education Minister's resignation alleging that he has violated protocol and received concessions from the UAE Consulate. "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 on Sunday.
Protests have also been held across the state echoing the same demand. On Monday, Members of the Kerala Students Union (KSU) held a protest march in Thiruvananthapuram while BJP and Yuva Morcha also held protests in Kochi on Saturday. Jaleel on Friday was interrogated by the ED in connection with the gold smuggling case for over two hours and is currently being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as well.
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.