THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Centre on Thursday allowed the NIA to investigate the gold smuggling case in Kerala in view of “serious implications for national security” while a foreign consulate’s former woman employee, suspected to be involved in the racket, moved the state high court for anticipatory bail.
The National Investigating Agency (NIA) will probe the case of smuggling, detected by the Customs sleuths, which has also taken a political turn with Congress and BJP targeting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after the woman was found to have been working for the state I-T department, a portfolio held by him, and sacked.
The Ministry of Home Affairs ordered the NIA probe a day after Vijayan, facing demands for his resignation, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his “intervention for an effective investigation” into the seizure of gold worth about Rs 15 crore from a “diplomatic baggage” which arrived at the international airport in Thiruvananthapuram recently.
“The MHA permits the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate the Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling case, as the organised smuggling operation may have serious implications for national security,” a home ministry spokesperson said in Delhi.
The gold weighing over 30 kg was seized from a baggage, carrying the name of a diplomatic person, that had landed by air cargo at Thiruvananthapuram international airport recently.
The Customs department has said it suspected a smuggling syndicate had misused the name of a person in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consulate who enjoys diplomatic immunity.
On Thursday, India said it was keeping the embassy of the UAE informed about the case and that the mission was extending all cooperation to the Customs authorities examining it.