Thiruvananthapuram: New development in the controversial Kerala gold smuggling case on Monday (20 July) indicated that money received from the illegal operation benefited the Malayalam film industry as well, the NIA probe shows.
This is one of the major development after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's close top aides were booted out due to their alleged links to key players.
The NIA is also likely to take statements from a few airline staff operating from the airport, here. Smuggling of gold took place on several occasions in the last one year, and one of the beneficiary was the film industry.
The NIA has also taken - statements from a Kerala Police official- Jayaghosh, the gunman of the UAE Consulate here who first was reported missing and later traced out in a bushy area near his house with his wrist slashed, apparently in a suicide bid.
The NIA officials met him at the hospital where he is convalescing and he said he went with P.S.Sarith to the airport to clear the now controversial gold baggage that was addressed to the UAE Consulate.
He said he never had a clue of the contents and knew it contained gold only after the media reported.
The call records of his that has now come out show a few calls were made between him and the two prime accused Swapna Suresh and Sarith.
The Kerala Police who took Jayaghosh to the hospital after he was found has recorded his statement before a magistrate.
However the NIA will return to take more statements from Jayaghosh, once he is discharged from the hospital.
The gold smuggling case which has large scale ramifications first surfaced when Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was arrested by the Customs on July 5 when he was facilitating smuggling of 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage to Thiruvananthapuram from Dubai.
It turned murkier when the name of Swapna, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here and employed with the state IT Department, surfaced. The case turned full circle when their links with senior IAS official M. Sivasankar, who has been suspended and booted out from two key posts - principal secretary to Vijayan and also the State IT secretary, were unearthed.
The office of Vijayan has come under a cloud after his former IT Fellow -- Arun Balachandran, also has been removed from his present top post in the IT department, as he admitted that he had booked a flat in the capital city on the directions of Sivasankar.
The NIA also suspects the gold smuggling was done by the duo using fabricated documents of the UAE Consulate.
The NIA has by now arrested Sarith, Swapna and Sandip all who had a direct role, while Fareed who is based in UAE has also been picked up by the authorities in UAE where he resides, after the Indian government cancelled his passport.
The Customs, which was the first agency to probe the case by now have arrested around six people, who they believe have been either the recipient of the smuggled gold or been a facilitator.
Though Vijjayan continues to wash his hands off and claims his office is clean, the Congress and the BJP, however, are up in arms and despite Covid protocols in force in the state, while the Congress party has suspended all open protests and demonstrations following a High Court directive till July 31, the BJP continues to take to the streets and on Monday they are observing a 'black day' in the state demanding Vijayan's resignation.