By Arun Jayan
Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], Aug 13 (ANI): As the probe by National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Customs into the gold smuggling case is progressing on the consignments brought in through diplomatic channels, Kerala Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel said that out of the 32 boxes sent from UAE, 31 boxes are yet to be opened and are safe in two places - one in Edappal and the other in Alathiyur in Quran academy in Malappuram.
"Those who doubt they can go and search," he told ANI.
When asked regarding the necessary documentation and approval required for consignments from a foreign country the minister said, "It is for the Customs to clear consignments reaching a consulate and there are documents to prove that they have cleared it. The consignment sent was Quran and there is no protocol here that prohibits religious texts to be distributed in India. There is only one point in protocol manual that mandates only after paying duty this can be brought to India. After paying duty including religious texts can be distributed in here."
When asked by ANI, whether he was sure it was holy text in the parcel and pointed out that the issue came to the fore after the gold smuggling case came up with Swapna Suresh, a key accused who had exchanged calls with the minister and his office he said, "I am told these consignments contains the holy book Quran. If anyone has a doubt, they can go and check those boxes. Swapna was associated with the consulate and my interaction was on official grounds. How can anyone know the background of a person? Other than one box in Kerala State Centre for Advanced Printing & Training (C-PAT) the rest of the boxes were taken to the places I mentioned, the government vehicle was already going there and the service was used to take the consignment."
The minister's response comes after Customs in connection with the gold smuggling case had issued a summons to State Protocol Officer asking if any duty exemption certificate was given to the diplomatic baggage and other consignments that arrived in Thiruvananthapuram Airport for UAE consulate.
Confirming receiving the notice, State Protocol Officer B Sunil Kumar had told ANI, "We have received a notice from Customs. As part of their investigation into the gold smuggling case, they wanted to know certain details including whether any duty exemption certificate was given to UAE consulate for the consignment that reached here. They have asked for details which we will be providing." (ANI)
By Arun Jayan