Monday, October 19, 2020

Kerala gold smuggling case: NIA suspects D-Company link, opposes bail pleas

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By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: October 15, 2020 1:03:47 pm

Underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

Probing the alleged terror link in the Kerala gold smuggling case, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Thursday submitted in a special NIA court in Kochi that it suspects the accused in the case have links to Dawood Ibrahim’s D-Company.

The probe agency filed the petition in response to the bail pleas by the seven accused in the case. Claiming intelligence inputs linking the proceeds of gold smuggling to anti-national and terror activities, the report said the detention of all accused in judicial custody up to 180 days was absolutely necessary to carry forward the investigation.

Ramees, the fifth accused in the case, revealed during interrogation that he attempted to start a diamond business in Tanzania and also tried to obtain a gold mining license in the country, the NIA said. The agency further said he brought gold from Tanzania and sold it in UAE.

The agency also quoted the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee’s (UNSCs) narrative summary on Dawood and fact sheet published by the US Department of Treasury, specifically mentioning his gang’s activities in Africa. “Recent news reports have also specifically mentioned the diamond business of Dawood Ibrahim in Tanzania, managed by his associate “Feroz”, considered a south Indian by intelligence agencies”, the agency said in the report.

NIA said the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB), the apex intelligence body for economic agencies in India, had sent a report to the Director-General of NIA during October 2019, regarding the probable use of proceeds from gold smuggling in Kerala, for terrorism and other anti-national activities.

“It is submitted that the facts now emerging during the investigation, regarding the charges under Sections 17 and /or 18 of the UAPA Act against accused with otherwise apparently minor roles, indicate that the intelligence input received from CEIB, leading to NIA investigation in this crime, is gaining credence.

“This makes the investigation, by detaining all accused in judicial custody till 180 days, absolutely necessary, in this crime having transnational ramifications…,” the NIA said in its counter.

The report also states that Mohammed Ali, another accused in the case, a member of banned radical outfit Popular Front of India. He was charge-sheeted by police in the Kerala professor hand-chopping case in 2010 but acquitted as more than 90 prosecution witnesses had turned hostile during trial, the agency said in the report.

It said the scrutiny of data retrieved by C-DAC from the seized mobile phone of Ali has revealed that he had formatted his phone on July 19 after his role in the smuggling case surfaced. However, from the limited data retrieved by C-DAC, pictures of paper slips depicting details of huge cash transactions amounting to several lakhs of rupees, including one transaction of Rs 15 lakhs specifically attributed to one “Jalal”, have been retrieved, NIA said.

His suspicious cash transactions need to be ascertained further through custodial interrogation after advanced forensic analysis and extraction of more data from his formatted mobile phone, the agency added.

Reacting to the NIA report, Kerala BJP chief K Surendran said it establishes the relationship of the accused with D company and the Islamic State. “State government is shielding these smugglers. The CM has lost moral rights to continue, hence, we demand that he resigns immediately,” ANI quoted him as saying.

“It is one of the biggest crimes that happened in Kerala. Unfortunately, state government was supporting the culprits. NIA will unearth details of this crime,” Congress’ Ramesh Chennithala was quoted as saying by ANI.

(With inputs from PTI)

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