(Eds: Adds details, background) Kochi, Sep 11 (PTI) Kerala Higher Education minister, K T Jaleel appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) here on Friday in connection with alleged FCRA violation in accepting consignments of Holy Quran brought from UAE through diplomatic channel as opposition Congress and BJP staged protests, demanding his resignation.
Jaleel appeared before the ED here and his statement was recorded, a source privy to the development told PTI.
The activists of Youth Congress, Yuva Morcha and the BJP took out separate marches to the state secretariat late Friday and burned effigies of the minister as they demanded his resignation.
The police nade a lathicharge and used water cannon to disperse the protesters.
Jaleel had earlier admitted that the consignment containing Holy Quran had been received from the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram which a top Customs official had referred to as 'prima facie violation of FCRA' (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act).
The minister on Friday posted on Facebook: 'Truth will prevail. Only the truth. Even if the whole world opposes it, nothing else will happen.' He did not elaborate.
As the news of Jaleel's appearance before the ED was flashed by television channels late evening, the opposition Congress and the BJP lashed out at the state government.
BJP workers, including state president K Surendran, also took out a march in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday night demanding that Jaleel quit the cabinet.
Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala claimed it was for the 'first time a minister was questioned by central agencies'.
'If there is any morality left in him, Minister Jaleel should resign from the post. The Chief Minister is protecting Jaleel.... How long will he protect the minister ?' Chennithala asked while talking to mediapersons.
Surendran said his party will organise strong protests across the state until the minister puts in his papers.
'...why the chief minister has not sought the resignation of minister Jaleel even after the ED has questioned him.
Minister is under a cloud of suspicion. The suspicion that Jaleel had smuggled gold under the pretext of importing the Quran is still there.
'He should explain why he went to the investigating agency in a secret manner. We will organise strong protests across the state until he resigns,' Surendran told reporters.
Officials had earlier said that Jaleel is under the scanner of the central agencies after he publicly claimed that the consignments brought to Thiruvananthapuram during Ramzan month contained Holy Quran for distribution in his constituency.
The minister's name had also figured in the call list of Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the case related to gold smuggling through diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.
However, Jaleel had said the calls were 'strictly professional'.
The central agencies had said the consignment containing Quran came to India 'without documentation' even from the place of its origin and that a probe was on to ascertain how the airline transported it.
The agencies also suspect that there could be smuggled goods among the consignments and it could be an 'operation of security service'.
Jaleel had earlier said he was ready to face any kind of probe. PTI RRT UD VS VS