The duo was nabbed from Bengaluru two days ago and taken to a COVID Care Centre in Kerala where they tested negative for the coronavirus.

Sandeep Nair with his mask under the chin stands with another man looking out from behind a grill
news Crime Monday, July 13, 2020 - 18:02

Two of the key accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case – Sandeep Nair and Swapna Suresh – were sent to the National Investigative Agency's (NIA) custody for eight days, by a special court in Kochi.

The duo, nabbed two days earlier from Bengaluru, were taken to a COVID Care Centre in Thrissur to test their samples for the coronavirus. Once both their results came as negative they were taken to the court by Monday afternoon.

The NIA said at the court that fake documents were used, forging the emblem of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to smuggle the gold, which was seized at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on June 30.

The NIA, as speculated in the First Information Report (FIR), said at the court that the gold was meant for terrorism activities. "Conspiracy and commission of terrorist act by raising funds through gold smuggling to threaten the economic security and monetary stability of India," the FIR, dated July 10, said.

Four people are named as accused in the case – Sarith, who was earlier arrested, Sandeep and Swapna, and Fazil Fareed - who is believed to be in the UAE. However, there appears to be some confusion in his name – if it is Fazil or Faizal.

The Customs Department, which had been in charge of the case before the NIA took over, has also found another suspect – a Malappuram native called Rameez, whom they took into custody after suspecting his involvement in selling the gold to jewellers.  

The case had spiralled into a political controversy in Kerala after Swapna’s name came up. The Opposition alleged that she was connected to M Sivasankar, who was principal secretary of the IT Department. Though he was removed from all his posts, protests continued, demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister, which the latter brushed off. However, CM Pinarayi Vijayan cautioned the protestors to observe the COVID-19 protocol, violating which would put not just them but many others in risk.

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