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Seized Rs 1 cr, 1 kg gold from Swapna's locker: NIA tells court


Kochi: The NIA, which is probing the Kerala gold smuggling case, told a special NIA court here on Friday that they have seized Rs one crore and one kg gold from a bank locker of accused Swapna Suresh, who was sent to judicial custody along with co-accused Sandip Nair till August 21.

Both were presented in the court on Friday at the end of their remand. After the court proceedings, both were sent to the Kakkanad jail.

During her appearance in the court, Swapna pleaded that she was under tremendous pressure and expressed the desire to see her two children.

The gold smuggling case surfaced when P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was arrested by the Customs on July 5 on the charge of facilitating smuggling of 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage to Thiruvananthapuram from Dubai.

In a related development, the Customs -- who first arrested Sarith -- sought the court's permission to take into custody Swapna and Sandip, who were arrested by the NIA team from Benguluru this month.

The Customs has registered the case as an economic offence and a different court will handle the case.

Since that court will open on Monday, the agency will have to wait till then to present the two accused and seek their custody.

The NIA is said to have unearthed connections the smugglers' gang had. A finger of suspicion points to the Malayalam film industry, with a part of the money earned through gold smuggling allegedly going into film production.

Apart from Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here and employed with the state IT Department, the name of senior IAS officer M. Sivasankar, since suspended, had also cropped up. The NIA quizzed the officer on Thursday, and will question him again on Monday in Kochi.

Meanwhile, state Communist Party of India-Marxist Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan maintained that neither the LDF government or his party had any role in the case.

"The probe against Sivasankar is in his personal capacity and has nothing to do with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. In Kerala, Congress' Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala is become the blue-eyed boy of the RSS. The Congress is just repeating what the BJP is saying as they are hand in glove to spread canards against the state government," said Balakrishnan.

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