Probing a purported “terror angle” in the Kerala gold smuggling case, the NIA has arrested six people, including one who was earlier an accused in the state’s infamous hand-chopping episode of 2010.
Popular Front of India member Muhammad Ali, one of those charged with chopping off the hand of a professor in Ernakulam district, was acquitted by a Kochi court in 2015.
NIA said its investigation has revealed that Ali was part of the conspiracy behind the smuggling.
The Ernakulam resident allegedly assisted the other arrested persons in collecting the smuggled gold and distributing it among the conspirators.
Besides Ali, the others held in the last four days are Jalal A M, of Ernakulam district, and Syed Alavi E Mohammed Shafi P and Abdu P, all from Malappuram.
In its investigation of gold smuggling through diplomatic cargo to the UAE Consulate, NIA had earlier arrested former Consulate executive secretary Swapna Suresh, its former PRO P S Sarith, their common friend Sandeep Nair and a “kingpin” in the racket, K T Rameez.
The palm-chopping incident of 2010, which had been probed by NIA, has been reckoned as a terror act in Kerala by security agencies. Ali had been 24th in the list of accused.
Meanwhile, Union Minister V Muraleedharan on Sunday observed a day-long fast at his residence demanding Vijayan’s resignation over the case. The fast came as BJP intensified its protests against the Kerala government. The MoS for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs alleged the chief minister had allowed his office to be used by those who indulged in “anti-national activities and betrayed the nation”.
On July 5, Customs officials seized around 30 kg of gold worth Rs 15 crore at the Thiruvananthapuram Airport. —(With PTI inputs)
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines