Kerala gold smuggling case: ED grills Higher education minister KT Jaleel in FCRA violation case
Jaleel, a first-time minister in the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government, was grilled by the Enforcement Directorate regarding his admission about accepting consignments of religious books from the UAE through diplomatic channel, an act seen as an FCRA violation.
Kerala Higher Education minister KT Jaleel on Friday (September 11) was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over the import of Quran boxes from the UAE using the diplomatic baggage route.
According to TV reports, the central agency is also probing if the minister had any links in the gold smuggling case which is being investigated by the ED, NIA and Customs.
The minister was grilled for about three hours regarding his admission about accepting consignments of religious books from the UAE through diplomatic channel, an act purportedly seen as an FCRA violation.
The minister appeared before the ED in Kochi in a private vehicle and the questioning continued for about three hours. A top official said some of his statements were contradictory and he will be summoned again for more clarity.
The minister maintained that it was not questioning and he will cooperate with the ongoing probe. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is yet to react over this.
Trouble began for Jaleel after phone call records of Swapna Suresh, main accused in the gold smuggling case, were leaked to the media. The minister’s phone number figured prominently in the list. Soon after the list surfaced, the minister had called a press conference in Malappuram and said he called Suresh as a consular employee in connection with Ramadan kits offered by the UAE consulate.
This clarification invited more trouble for him as he is not supposed to accept any funds or freebies without the consent of the ministry of external affairs.
Meanwhile, members of student and youth outfits of the Congress and the BJP clashed with the police late Friday in Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram, demanding the resignation of Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel for alleged Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) violation.
As media reports of Jaleel’s questioning by the ED came out, student and youth outfits of the Congress and the BJP took out protests outside the secretariat, leading to police lathi-charge. Effigies of the minister were burnt. A couple of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) members sustained injuries.