Kerala Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel on Thursday morning reached the National Investigation Agency (NIA) office at Kochi for questioning. The minister was earlier grilled by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over his connection with UAE consulate and gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh.
The New Indian Express reported that Jaleel reached the NIA office at 5:55 am in a private car, Toyota Etios. The minister is being quizzed by the NIA to probe his alleged ties to Swapna Suresh, the second accused in the gold smuggling case and a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.
The police have made arrangements to prevent any protest before the NIA office by opposition parties who have been staging protests across the state, seeking Jaleel’s resignation.
When he was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the case, the media was not aware at the time as he had parked his car at a friend’s residence and drove his friend’s car to the ED office.
Soon after Swapna’s arrest in July, NIA investigation into call records of Swapna showed that both knew each other and were in contact. Jaleel has, however, denied any link to Swapna and claimed that he had contacted her based on the direction of the Consul General of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.
Jaleel had said that he was in communication with Swapna Suresh regarding distributing flood relief kits worth Rs 5 lakh, which were sponsored by the Consulate, during Ramzan.
He claimed that he was not aware that she had resigned from the Consulate in 2019.
Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate questioned Jaleel to ascertain if the minister had flouted the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, by accepting foreign aid without seeking Centre’s permission. Jaleel is said to have received around 300 copies of the Quran from the Consulate reportedly via diplomatic cargo.
The ED summoned Jaleel to probe if he received any pecuniary benefits from the UAE Consulate, and thereby violating the law.
The Minister for Higher Education also allegedly used the vehicle of the state government’s Kerala State Centre for Advanced Printing and Training (C-apt) to transport the religious texts to Malappuram.
However, it is alleged that he did not receive permission from the Centre before accepting a foreign gift, and therefore, is in violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
(This article has been republished in an arrangement with The News Minute)
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