Thiruvananthapuram: The Customs Department has issued a notice to Kerala Minister KT Jaleel asking him to appear before it on Monday for questioning.
A source from the Customs department said: “Minister KT Jaleel has been summoned as a person of interest in connection with all ongoing investigations” The Customs Department suspects that the Minister and some officials of the Consulate of the UAE in the state’s capital, Thiruvananthapuram, for “fraudulently importing goods, including a recent consignment of 250 cartons of the sacred text weighing about 4.5 tonnes into the State”
The Customs found that the UAE Consulate in the last three years had imported 17,000 kg of dates and at least 250 packages containing around 8,000-odd copies of the Holy Quran in May 2020.
The dates and religious texts had been picked up by the Centre for Advanced Printing and Technology, which works under Jaleel, and had been taken to his home district of Malappuram for distribution. The matter becomes even more suspicious as the government vehicle that was used for ferrying the Qurans to Malappuram had disabled its GPS and the vehicle had even gone to Karnataka. The Customs are looking at this matter as the cargo used for importing the Quran and dates might have been missed for smuggling gold
Customs seized 30 kg of gold stashed in diplomatic cargo addressed to Rashid Khamis Al Sheimeili the Consul Chargé D’affaires back in July 2020. As per the inventory, the cargo contained dates and sanitary fittings.Later when the former Executive Secretary at the Consulate, Swapna Suresh was arrested, KT Jaleel was also under the radar. Though he agreed that he had contacted Swapna as she was a consulate staff, but he said was unaware she had left the Consulate a year ago. The National Investigation Agency and the Enforcement Directorate have already questioned the him.
Kerala Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel was questioned by the Customs for over five hours on Monday. He reached the Customs office in Kochi around 12 noon and left the office by 6.40 pm in the evening.
KT Jaleel’s response:
Soon after Customs completed the questioning and formalities KT Jaleel had put a post on his official Facebook page. “Tighten the noose around my neck and nothing else will happen except that those tightening the rope will twist or break the rope. It is not arrogance or challenge, it is courage from the conviction that one has not done anything wrong,” in the gold smuggling, financial fraud, corruption, in the name of acquiring illicit property, or in the bribery of ten paise. Satyameva Jayate. This assurance is the ever-present strength of an ordinary public figure like me,”the post read.
Customs sources said he has not been given a clean chit in connection with the alleged violation in accepting consignments of Quran importedd by UAE Consulate officials in Thiruvananthapuram for their personal use through the diplomatic channels,The minister might be summoned again for questioning.
The Customs Department has found that the imports to the Consulate violate the Customs Act, Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, and Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
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