Gold smuggling case: ED questions Kerala Higher Education Minister Jaleel; Opposition seeks his resignation

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The LDF said that Jaleel need not step down merely on the basis of the interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate in the gold smuggling case

In a major embarrassment to the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government, the Enforcement Directorate questioned state Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel in Kochi on Friday.

Soon after the news was out, the Oppositon was quick to demand the immediate resignation of the minister on moral grounds. Police resorted to cane charge to disperse protest march in the state capital late in the night.

Jaleel was questioned at the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) Kochi office in the morning and it reportedly continued more than two hours, said news reports.

Enforcement Directorate interrogated Kerala Minister KT Jaleel in connection with Kerala gold smuggling case earlier today (Friday), reported ANI quoting an ED official.

Interestingly, even the media got the news when the ED official announced the questioning in the evening.

Apparently fearing media attention, Jaleel first reached the house of a business-friend at Aroor near Kochi in his official car and he reached the ED office in a private vehicle, reported Manorama.

Meanwhile, Opposition parties took out processions in different parts of the state including Thiruvananthapuram demanding the resignation of Jaleel.

Police resorted to cane charge in the state capital to disperse the workers of Youth Congress and BJP when they reached the Secretariat area with procession. A few workers of BJP and Youth Congress sustained injuries in the police action, said TV reports.

Meanwhile, the LDF said that Jaleel need not step down on the basis of an interrogation by the ED.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and Kerala PCC president Mullappalli Ramachandran demanded the resignation of Jaleel.

BJP state president K Surendran criticized the police action on the party workers for protesting against Jaleel and said that the agitation would be intensified from Saturday seeking the minister’s resignation.

Jaleel courted controversy when he reportedly accepted a diplomatic consignment weighing 4,479 kg had arrived at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on March 4 this year. Jaleel said the packets were "Quran boxes" meant to be distributed in Kerala.

The minister had said it was on the request of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram that he facilitated the transport of the holy books through the official vehicle of Kerala State Centre for Advanced Printing & Training (C-apt).

Jaleel also said the distribution of holy books was an annual affair and said that he would welcome any enquiry into the matter.

The Opposition had cried foul in it and alleged that he clandestinely transported gold under the cover of Quran.

The Customs had expressed doubts about the claim. It felt that if there were 6,000 holy books, as had been claimed, then the weight of the consignment would have been considerably more than the weight recorded.

On Wednesday, the ED questioned CPM Kerala secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's younger son Bineesh Kodiyeri at its Kochi office for about 11 hours in connection with the gold smuggline case.

 

With inputs from Agency

Image credit: Manorama

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