The Customs has issued a summons to Kerala Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel to appear before its preventive unit in Kochi on November 9 in connection with a case pertaining to the import of dates and religious texts in violation of the Customs Act.
While probing the smuggling of gold through diplomatic cargo to the UAE Consulate, the Customs found that the Consulate had imported 17,000 kg of dates in the last three years and at least 250 packets containing 8,000-odd copies of the Quran in May. The dates and religious texts had been picked up by the Centre for Advanced Printing and Technology, an institution under Jaleel, and had been taken to his home district of Malappuram for distribution.
Customs is looking into whether the cargo used for the import of dates and religious texts have been misused for smuggling gold. Their suspicions have also been raised as the probe found that the government vehicle used for ferrying the Qurans to Malappuram had disabled its GPS and the vehicle had even gone to Karnataka.
Customs officials said the minister has been found to be in touch with the Consulate, violating protocol norms. “Besides, as per the Customs Act, the Consulate can import things through diplomatic cargo only for their use. Such imports cannot be sold outside or even donated to anyone. Hence, Customs found the distribution of data and religious texts illegal. He (Jaleel) had been named as a person of interest in the case regarding the import of dates and religious texts,” sources said.
Customs is the third central agency to question Jaleel. Earlier, the NIA and ED had questioned him for several hours in connection with their probe into terror and money laundering aspects of the gold smuggling case.
Jaleel has received the Customs summons at a time the LDF government has stepped up its attack on Central agencies. Earlier this week, the state withdrew the general consent to CBI.
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