15 Oct 2020: NIA suspects Dawood Ibrahim link in Kerala gold smuggling case
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) suspects that most-wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim could be involved in the Kerala gold smuggling case, which has rocked politics in the Southern state for weeks now.
On Wednesday, the top probing agency made submissions at a special court in Kochi, opposing the bail plea of the accused and said terror links need investigation.
The verdict is expected tomorrow.
Context: Background: 30 kg of gold was seized, diplomatic links surfaced
The case pertains to the seizure of 30 kilograms of gold worth Rs. 14.86 crore on July 5 at the Thiruvananthapuram Airport.
The gold was found in a diplomatic bag addressed to the United Arab Emirates Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.
Subsequently, IAS M Sivasankar was removed as Principal Secretary in the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's office over suspected links to an accused.
Probe: NIA isn't the only agency probing the matter
Besides NIA, the sensational case is being probed by Enforcement Directorate as well. As a part of the probe, Swapna Suresh and Sarith PS — two former employees of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram — have been arrested.
According to NIA, since November 2019, gold has been smuggled a record 21 times with an intention to threaten India's "economic security."
Details: Accused purchased gold from Tanzania, sold them in UAE: NIA
Yesterday, just as it opposed the bail application, NIA said one of the accused, Ramees, said he attempted to start a diamond business in Tanzania and attempted to get a gold mining license.
"The accused also stated that he bought gold from Tanzania and sold them in UAE," the agency added.
Ramees and another accused Sharafuddin met Dawood's aide Feroz in Tanzania, claimed NIA.
Support: To support claims, NIA quoted US agency, UNSC
NIA quoted the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee's summary on Dawood as well as the US Department of Treasury's findings of Dawood being active in Africa.
The Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB), the probing agency said, had in October 2019 sent a report to the Director-General of NIA hinting that proceeds from gold smuggling could be used for terrorism and other anti-national activities.
Argument: NIA wanted custody extended, cited detention in UAE as reason
NIA said it was crucial for the investigation that all the accused remain in custody for 180 days.
If the accused are given bail, it would also affect the detention of two men, namely Faisal Fareed and Rakim Hameed, in UAE. They have been held up since August.
"These two have been detained there on our non-judicial request," an officer said.
Plea: One accused formatted phone, need time for probe: NIA
Further, NIA said another accused Mohammed Ali, allegedly a member of Popular Front of India, was charge-sheeted by police in 2010 for chopping off a teacher's hand. But he was acquitted as 90 prosecution witnesses turned hostile.
NIA said Ali formatted his phone on July 19 after his role in the case surfaced, hence, custody must be extended for a thorough investigation.