In a recent development in the sensational Kerala gold smuggling case, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has recorded the arrests of six more people over the past three days. The investigation body also held searches at six spots across the state in connection with the case, an official said on Sunday.
The agency has so far arrested 10 people including key accused Sarith PS, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair. The case pertains to smuggling of 30 kg gold through a diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate in Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram.
On July 30, two accused -- Jalal A M of Ernakulam and Said Alavi E of Malappuram -- were arrested for conspiring with the alleged kingpin of the case Ramees K T, an NIA spokesperson said. Jalal and Said were recently arrested by the Customs Department and were remanded in judicial custody.
While on July 31, two more accused, Mohammed Shafi P and Abdu P T, both residents of Malappuram, were arrested in the case, he said. The duo had also been remanded after being arrested by the Customs in the past weeks.
Of the most recent, on August 1, the NIA arrested two more persons -- Ernakulam residents Muhammad Ali Ebrahim and Muhammad Ali -- after investigation revealed that they were part of the conspiracy. They are also alleged to have assisted Jalal A M in collecting the smuggled gold from Ramees K T in Thiruvananthapuram and distributing the contraband among other conspirators, he said.
Muhammad Ali is a member of the Popular Front of India and was earlier charge-sheeted by the Kerala Police with chopping the palm of a professor but got acquitted after trial in 2015, the official said.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, following the arrests, the NIA conducted searches at six places -- the residences of Jalal A M and Rabins Hameed in Ernakulam, and of Ramees K T, Mohammed Shafi, Said Alavi and Abdu P T in Malappuram -- the official said. One of them, Rabins, who is also accused by the Customs Department in the case, is yet to be arrested. He is believed to be in the UAE and has been allegedly aiding Faisal Fareed, a key accused who is also yet to be arrested.
During searches, two hard disks, one tablet computer, eight mobile phones, six SIM cards, one digital video recorder and five DVDs were seized, besides various documents including bank passbooks, credit/debit cards, travel documents and identity documents of the accused, the official said.
The NIA started a parallel investigation by registering a case on July 10 against four people, for their alleged involvement in smuggling 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crore in a diplomatic baggage in Kerala.
Further investigation in the case was underway, the official added.
The case has made political storms in Kerala after senior IAS officer M Sivasankar, who was also the Principal Secretary to CM Pinarayi Vijayan, was alleged to have involvement with the accused. He was suspended from service after being removed from officials positions.
Watch 30 kg gold smuggled in diplomatic bag: