Indian police arrest suspects involved in smuggling of 30kg of gold - GulfToday

Indian police arrest suspects involved in smuggling of 30kg of gold


Swapna Suresh (centre) and Sandeep Nair (3rd left) seen in photo released by NIA after their arrest.

Ashraf Padanna



India’s anti-terrorism investigators have arrested two key suspects in an international smuggling racket on the run since the seizure of 30 kg of gold at the airport here last week.


National Investigation Agency (NIA) sleuths picked up Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, the second and fourth defendants, from their hotel room in Bangalore on Saturday.


They brought the duo to the Kerala city of Kochi and produced them in a designated NIA court that sent them to a care centre awaiting their COVID-19 test results.


Suresh was working as an operations manager at the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL).


After the seizure, M. Sivasankar, principal secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, had to go on extended leave following reports of his links with her.


The first accused who arrived at the airport to take delivery of the consignment is already in NIA custody while the fourth defendant is a resident abroad.


The officers took the duo from the Karnataka state capital to the Kerala port city some 560 km away by road amid protests by young political workers.


The scam has triggered widespread outrage among job seekers as Suresh landed the government job backdoors using a fake university degree certificate.


The opposition parties alleged that the state police helped the duo to flee the Kerala state capital here despite a "triple” lockdown closing all roads to the city.


"Almost a week has passed since the case came up. But the state police had not booked her in any case,” said Ramesh Chennithala, leader of the opposition.


"Why is the government delaying the suspension of Shivasankar despite proof of his close links with the main accused?”


He wanted Vijayan to order a comprehensive enquiry into the scandal plugging all loopholes as "the office of the chief minister is under a cloud of suspicion.”


"In certain areas in the city you need a pass to buy even a packet of milk,” said K Surendran, president of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party in Kerala.


"And in all interstate checkpoints, you need an entry pass. High-ranking officials had certainly escorted them.”


The police said they would investigate how the two escaped amid triple lockdown and travelled more than 800 km from the state capital.


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