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Kerala Gold Smuggling: NIA Suspects Terror-funding, Key Accused Sent To 8 Days Custody

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Kerala Gold Smuggling: NIA Suspects Terror-funding, key suspects sent to 8 days custody.

A significant development in Kerala‘s long history of gold smuggling from the Middle East, took place when the Ministry of Home Affairs decided to assign the probe about the seizure of 30 kg (66lb) of gold from a diplomatic cargo addressed to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The Special Court on Monday sent the two accused on NIA custody for eight days based on the petition put forward by the agency.

Over the years, tonnes of gold has been smuggled into the state’s jewellery showrooms as finished ornaments, evading all taxes and import duties throughout the journey. Though carriers have been arrested and smuggled gold seized previously by the Customs and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the big sharks running the international business have been out of reach.

Development so far:

On July 10, the NIA registered an FIR against four people in connection with the smuggling, under the UAPA Act. The agency stated: “As the case pertains to smuggling of a large quantity of gold into India from offshore locations threatening the economic stability and national security of the country, it amounts to a terrorist act as stated in section 15 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.”

As the case has national as well as international connections, and the initial inquiries revealed that terrorism in India could be financed from the proceeds of smuggled gold, the agency has had to step in.

Former Public Relations Officer with the Consulate office, Sarith P.S, former Consulate Executive Secretary Swapna Suresh, and her two accomplices Sandeep Nair and Sharjah-based Fazil Fareed, who shipped the consignment to the Consulate, are the four accused booked by the NIA. Of them, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair were detained at Bangalore on Saturday.

On Monday, NIA submitted in the special court that the gold smuggled was me not meant for jewellers but for “terrorism purpose,” which support the claims made by the Ministry of Home Affairs that the smuggled gold was used for financing terrorism. The court sent accused Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair to NIA custody for eight days.

In a related development, the additional chief judicial magistrate court (economic offences) in Kochi remanded KT Ramees of Malappuram, suspected to be a buyer and financier in the smuggling racket, in judicial custody till July 27.

In the report submitted by NIA to the special court, it stated that a detailed probe is required as this may impact the relationship between India-UAE. Earlier UAE Embassy in New Delhi in a Twitter statement wrote: ” The authorities in the UAE have launched an investigation to find out who sent the cargo containing gold to the address of the UAE consulate.”

UAE emblem and seal forged:

Public Prosecutor Arjun Ambalapatta submitted that the two of the main accused, Swapna and Sarith were ex-employees at the Consulate; thus they had all knowledge about the functioning of the diplomatic channel. The racket forged emblems and seals of the UAE consulate to smuggle gold.

The court took the NIA petition after the COVID-19 test of both the accused came negative. On Monday, it heard the custody application of the agency in the presence of the accused where they brought directly from the COVID care centres.

The agency also moved a petition in the court to issue a non-bailable warrant against the third accused Faizal Fareed so that a Blue notice–an Interpol notice to collect additional information concerning a crime from member countries — can be issued.

Seizure of the Baggage:

The consignment of 30 kg of 24-carat gold is worth Rs 14.82 crores. It was discovered by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate on July 5, camouflaged with diplomatic baggage from UAE, exempted from inspection following the Vienna Convention, at Trivandrum International Airport. It was supposed to be received by Sarith P.S. who had received multiple such consignments earlier as well.

He got arrested by the NIA, and he named Swapna Suresh, when questioned, thereby adding a political angle to the case. Senior IAS officer M Sivasankar was removed from his position of principal secretary to the CM by the state government due to his alleged participation in hiring Suresh.

In her anticipatory bail application to the High Court, Ms Suresh claimed that her intervention with the Customs was only to get the cargo addressed to Rashid Khamis Al Sheimeili, the Acting Consul-General, and she was otherwise innocent.

Kerala Gold Smuggling: NIA Suspects Terror-funding, key suspects sent to 8 days custody.

Source: Twitter

History of Gold Smuggling into Kerala:

From 2019 to 2020, authorities have seized 550 kg of smuggled gold in Kerala, which amounts to 15 per cent of all gold smuggling in India, as per Customs sources. However, the actual amount of gold smuggled to the state remains unknown. Between 2018-19, the count was at 401 kg.

As per the present market value of the metal in India, one kg of smuggled gold would earn a profit of Rs 5 lakh on import duty alone. Till the time the gold is converted to jewellery and ornaments, the tax evasion process would continue, thus making doorways for enormous profits for the smugglers.

The carriers usually get arrested during shipping, but they are not able to divulge any information about the notable links in Kerala or the Gulf countries, as they are kept in the dark about the receivers of consignments. Once a carrier is arrested, the upper chains vanish. Therefore, the big kingpins remain untouched. Even celebrities and film personalities are deployed to act as carriers.

Investigation limitations of Indian Customs authorities in the Middle East and the lax immigration and border checking at India-Nepal border, further facilitate the smugglers to remain undetected by the law agencies.

Political reaction:

Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan is facing a severe backlash from the Opposition. Youth Congress, BJP, and IUML are setting up protest marches in all district headquarters demanding his resignation over the case. On Wednesday, Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for an “effective and coordinated” investigation by central agencies into the gold smuggling case. Further developments in the matter are much awaited.

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Nine-Year-Old Girl Raped And Murdered In Nangal; Family Asks For Capital Punishment

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Nangal Rape Case II News Aur Chai

The nine-year-old girl was cremated on Aug.1, 2021, without seeking her parents’ permission. The parent’s suspects’ it was rape as her mother was kept away while the priest performed the cremation. The Chief of Bhim Army, Chandrasekhar Azad, has reached their parents and offered legal and financial help.

The villagers have been protesting against the incident and blocked the Containment Roads’ towards the Janakpuri. They are demanding the accused to be hanged to death. The Senior police officer, Joint Commissioner Jaspal Singh, and DCP Ingit Pratap Singh visited the protesting site. They assured the villagers’ justice for the girl and her family. 

While speaking with villagers, Singh said, “All the four accused Radhey Shyam (55), the priest, Kuldeep Kumar (63), Laxmi Narain (48) and Mohammad Salim (49) are in prison. Also, A medical team of 3 members have been set up to carry out of the Autopsy of remaining’s of the girl. And an ACP ranked Officer will investigate the case”. He also requested villagers to give written grievances to Police officers.

The victim’s mother doubts that her daughter had been raped, and thus she was cremated without their permission. The rape charges were not added in the case in the Initial stage. But the rape charges were added after the SC/ST committee visited and spoke with the parents, the Officer leading the case. The Victim identity is kept hidden as per the guidelines of the supreme court and to give privacy to family and avoid media trials. 

“As per current details found by CCTV footage, the girl was seen entering the cremation location around 5 PM and the accused went looking for mother around 6 PM. The properties from the locations are taken for forensic tests and autopsy reports are in process,”. Said the officer-in-charge.

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Flood Wreaked Havoc On Madhya Pradesh.

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Madhya Pradesh Flood II News Aur Chai

Many districts in Madhya Pradesh were hit by heavy flooding on August 3, 2021, due to an unparalleled 800mm rainfall in the past 24 hours. One thousand seven hundred and seventy-one villages are affected due to heavy floods. 

Heavy flooding in Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh, has affected more than a lack of people who have been stuck in the local river. There was a complete power cut, and the mobile network had been cut off since August 2, 2021. The everyday life of people living in the Niwadi and Tikamgarh districts has stopped due to heavy rainfall. The severe rain has been in Guna, Shivpuri, Sheopur, Morena, Datia, Gwalior and Chambal regions. The rivers like Chambal, Kwari, Sindh, Kuno, and Seep have overflowed above the danger mark. The bridge collapsed on river Sindh, near Ratanpur village as the water released from Harsi and Manikheda dams. Double-storey buildings of some areas submerged. 

According to locals, the mobile phones of all the authorities, newspaper offices and local TV channels had ceased. There was a power cut in the city. Rail services in the areas like Shivpuri and Gwalior are affected too. A 50-year-old Nurse, identified as Sumanlata Joshi, was electrocuted in Shivpuri town as an electric current ran into her flooded house in the Kamlaganj area. 

As per officials, three advanced light helicopters and a Russian-made Mi-17 chopper have been sent for rescue operations from the Indian Air Force station. Seven teams of the SDRF are posted in the Shivpuri district for rescue operations. The SDRF has deployed five and two of its units in the communities like Sheopur and Datia. One thousand six hundred people were saved by NDRF and SDRF teams, yet 200 villages are still stuck in the flooded areas.

The chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, said the speed of rain has reduced and there will be no terrible rains. They are trying to provide relief and evacuate the people in the affected areas as soon as possible.

The chief minister chaired an emergency meeting in Bhopal on the flood situation of the Gwalior-Chambal region. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, assuring that the Centre will be providing all the help to Madhya Pradesh. The Chief Minister also said that he is very grateful to the Prime Minister for all the cooperation.

The Chief Minister said he held a meeting where he discussed the flood situation in Madhya Pradesh with the prime minister. The Chief Minister, too, discussed help from the Indian Army in the flood-hit areas. Also, they are informing Prime Minister Modi about the rescue operation in those areas. Mr Chouhan said they had shifted four troops of the Army in most flood-affected areas to evacuate more flood-affected people. The SDRF team is handling the situation very well. Ministers are monitoring the status of the problem. 

Union Minister Amit Shah Tweeted discussed the situation of Madhya Pradesh with CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The central government will provide all the help to the state. In this challenging situation, their government is standing with the people of the state.

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Dhanbad Judge Death, Spurs Concern About Threats Faced By Members Of Judiciary

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Uttam Anand Dhanbad Judge II News Aur Chai

On July 28, 2021, Dhanbad Additional Sessions Judge Uttam Anand died preceding an alleged hit and run accident. The incident took place near his house when Mr Anand was out for his morning walk, and an auto-rickshaw hit him from behind, following which it drove away. Mr Anand was hospitalized by a passer-by, where he succumbed to his injuries. 

The accident is suspecting to be a case of hit and run until the CCTV footage of the accident was recovered, leading to a murder investigation. The video footage shows that the three-wheeler swerved in the Judge’s direction and drove away after knocking him down. A Special Investigations Team [SIT] is formed by the Jharkhand Chief Minister, Hemant Soren, to investigate the death of the Additional Session District judge. 

On July 31, 2021, Jharkhand’s Chief Minister Hemant Soren even took to Twitter to announce his decision to order a CBI probe into the matter. 

An officer-in-charge of Jharkhand’s Pathardih Police Station, Umesh Manjhi, is also suspended for not registering the concerned FIR on time. Sanjeev Kumar, Dhanbad SSP, has confirmed the same. The alleged murder of the Judge is a massive concern over the threats faced by the members of the Judiciary, especially by the trial judges across the country. 

The Supreme Court has taken up a Suo moto cognizance of Mr Anand’s demise, titled ‘In Re: Safeguarding courts and protecting [death of Additional Session Judge, Dhanbad]. Also, the bench led by the Chief Justice of India has expressed its concern over the stressful working conditions and threats amidst which the trial judges have to function.

“The Dhanbad case has wider ramifications. We are getting reports that judicial officers are under attack across the country. We want to examine this issue and may seek reports from the state.” Said the Chief Justice of India. 

The Jharkhand Government and the Director-General of Police are asked to submit the required documents and affidavits by the Supreme Court within the week. Also, the Supreme Court has declared the Suo moto would not interfere or hamper with the probe issued by the Jharkhand High Court into the Judge’s death. 

According to a source in Special Investigations Team [SIT], the three-wheeler drivers were under the influence of a sedative, Nitrosun 10 — a drug prescribed for patients suffering from anxiety disorders and illicit alcohol. 

As per police sources, four men were arrested, including the vehicle driver, the shopkeeper who sold them the drug, and the vehicle owner.

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