Kerala Minister for Higher Education KT Jaleel has been summoned by the Customs Department as part of its probe on the alleged violation in accepting consignments of Holy Quran and dates, which were imported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Consulate officials in Thiruvananthapuram for personal use through diplomatic channels. According to official sources, the Customs has served notice to Jaleel to appear in its office in Kochi on Monday. The sources said besides the issue of importing the Quran, the agency will seek clarification from the Minister on other matters under investigation. They, however, did not elaborate.
Jaleel was earlier questioned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the terror angle in the controversial Kerala gold smuggling case after finding that one of the key accused, Swapna Suresh, had contacted him multiple times. The Minister had then said that he contacted Swapna as per the direction of UAE Consulate officials, where she was an employee earlier. It was following this that the earlier incidents of importing Quran and dates surfaced.
He was also questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) for accepting consignments of Holy Quran brought from UAE through diplomatic channels.
The Customs department has registered two cases for allegedly accepting consignments of the Holy Quran and thousands of kilograms of dates imported by the UAE consulate officials for their personal use through diplomatic channels. It has launched a probe into the role of "some powerful persons" who allegedly violated the laws.
Customs officials said the Kerala government had accepted 18,000 kg of dates imported by the UAE consulate officials in Thiruvananthapuram in 2017 for their personal use. Similarly, consignments of the Holy Quran imported by the UAE consulate were also accepted by the state government officials.
Officials have said there were clear cases of violation of Customs Act as the state government officials accepted those items brought by the diplomats for their personal use by availing tax exemption certificate. They have said the state government officials very well know that they are forbidden from taking any gifts or articles from a foreign government.
Massive protests had surfaced across the state, demanding Minister KT Jaleelâ€™s resignation, after his name initially surfaced along with Swapna Suresh. The protests had gained momentum after the Minister was questioned by the various investigation agencies.