NIA court grants bail to 10 in Kerala gold smuggling case, dismisses pleas of three key accused
The court ordered the ten accused to execute of a bond of 10 lakh each, surrender their passports, to not leave the state without permission and not make any attempt to contact prosecution witnesses
Kochi: A court on Thursday granted conditional bail to ten accused arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the Kerala gold smuggling case.
The Special NIA court, however, dismissed bail pleas of three key accused. Two other prime accused in the case Swapna Suresh and Sarith PS withdrew their bail pleas on Thursday.
Granting bail to the ten accused with stringent conditions, the court directed them to execute a bond for Rs 10 lakh each with two solvent sureties each for the like-sum. They were also ordered to surrender their passports, not to leave the state without the court's permission and not make any attempt to contact any of the prosecution witnesses.
Directing the accused to appear before the Investigating Officer as and when required by him, the court said they shall also present themselves before the station house officer (SHO) of their respective local police station between 10 am and 11 am on every Sunday until further orders.
The NIA had on Wednesday opposed the bail pleas of the accused, saying there was intelligence inputs regarding probable use of proceeds from the gold smuggling for the anti-national and terrorism activities.
Indicating that it suspected the link of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's gang in the sensational gold smuggling racket, the agency had argued the detention of all accused in judicial custody up to 180 days was absolutely necessary to carry forward the investigation in the case.
In a related development, a special court on Thursday dismissed the bail plea of Sandeep Nair, another key accused, in the money laundering case linked to the gold smuggling.
The NIA, probing the terror angle in the gold smuggling through diplomatic channel, initially named Sarith, Swapna Suresh, and Sandeep Nair and Fazil Fareed as the accused in the case which relates to the seizure of 30 kilograms of 24 carat gold worth Rs 14.82 crore at Thiruvananthapuram airport on 5 July by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Kochi.
During the course of the investigation, NIA has arraigned at least 26 others as accused and arrested many of them. Besides NIA, the Customs and Enforcement Directorate are also probing the case of smuggling of gold through diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate at Thiruvananthapuram since November last year.
Four accused people Waseem Ahmad Sofi, Tariq Ahmad Dar, Bilal Ahmad Mir alias Bilal Fafu and Tariq Ahmad Bafanda, all residents of Srinagar were arrested during the searches carried out in Srinagar, Pulwama and Shopian
'Majority-minority' binary not needed in India, all citizens enjoy equal rights, says Kerala guv Arif Mohammad Khan
At a conclave in Delhi, the Kerala governor also asserted that Indian civilisation and 'our cultural heritage' have 'no concept of discrimination' on the basis of religion
The state government has sought the assistance of the defence forces for rescue operations even as a 'red alert' was sounded for six districts of Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur and Palakkad