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Crowd funding, source of fund in Kerala gold smuggling case




The ongoing probe by Customs and the NIA in the now controversial gold smuggling case, in which even the office of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is allegedly involved, has revealed it was crowd funding — the main source of funds in gold smuggling.

The Customs on Thursday arrested two more people who have been identified as those behind financing the buying of gold.

The entire money required to buy gold is transferred through hawala to the UAE.

The case which has large scale ramifications across sectors first surfaced when P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate, here was arrested by the Customs on July 5 when he was facilitating smuggling of 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage to Thiruvananthapuram from Dubai.

It turned murkier when the name of Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate, here and employed with the IT Department, surfaced and it turned the full circle when her links with the principal secretary of Vijayan – M. Sivasankar, who is also the State IT secretary, were revealed.

First Swapna was booted out and then Vijayan quickly removed Sivasankar from both the posts, but it was not enough as the Congress and the BJP went full throttle demanding the suspension of Sivasankar and the resignation of Vijayan.

The Centre also stepped in and the NIA was asked to probe the case, even as the Customs is already on it.

A day after NIA was put into service, Swapna and her friend Sandeep were taken into custody from Bengaluru and are presently under judicial custody.

It was after that the probe went into high gear and the Customs have by now completed a nine hour grilling of Sivasankar, while the NIA have got vital leads after questioning Swapna, Sandeep, Sarith and Rameez, all were arrested.

It was the leads, which led to the modus operandi of the operations and according to the Customs, the gold smuggling gangs consist of several layers and include financiers, here – who raise the money to buy gold from the Middle East. Then there is another section who transports it to the various end users – which are the jewellers in the state and the vital clogs are those who coordinate the entire operations with precision.

At the end of the successful operation, everyone involved gets their due share and Customs have now found out this particular gang in the month of June alone has smuggled 70 kg of gold on three different occasions.

Swapna and Sarith are carriers and using their closeness which was built up when the duo worked at the UAE Consulate and her close links with Sivasankar also came as a boon.

According to the Customs, it has got vital evidence, the way Swapna functioned on July 5, the present smuggling attempt, which failed.

Her mobile was located in the tower where the entire operations were carried out from a flat, which is next door to the State Secretariat.

Another casualty attached to Vijayan — Arun Balachandran, a former IT fellow of Vijayan and now works in the IT department, who though claims he has nothing to do with it, other than arranging a flat on the directions of Sivasankar, has been now removed from his present post.

Now all eyes are on the Customs who is all set to call Sivasankar again, as his mobile phone has already been confiscated and sent for scientific examination.

The NIA is also expected to call in Sivasankar and as and when it happens, all the preliminary links would be established to reign in the fledging gold smuggling racket, but this is the first time, where higher ups directly or indirectly appeared to have a role.


Maharashtra Govt suspends ex-Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh





In a significant decision, the Maharashtra government has suspended former Mumbai Police Commissioner and current Commandant-General, State Home Guards, Param Bir Singh, it was announced on Thursday evening.

The suspension of Singh, an IPS 1988 batch officer and declared a ‘Proclaimed Offender’ by a Mumbai court last month – follows a probe report submitted by Additional Chief Secretary Debashish Chakravarti to the state government.

Among other things, the report had recommended action against Singh for defying the All India Civil Service Rules, even as he became “untraceable” for nearly six months and resurfaced a week ago (last Thursday) in Mumbai.

Singh is facing several cases of extortion and corruption with cases lodged in Mumbai and Thane, bailable and non-bailable arrest warrants, plus the government-appointed retired Justice K. U. Chandiwal Commission of Enquiry.

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K’taka Police deny permission to stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra shows




Close on the heels of denying permission to stand-up comedy show of Munawar Faruqui citing law and order problems, the Karnataka Police have denied permission to yet another stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra to stage his shows in Bengaluru.

Kunal Kamra, a vocal critic of the present ruling establishment has stated that the shows scheduled for 20 days have been cancelled in the backdrop of threats and denial of permission by the police.

However, the act of Karnataka Police denying permission for the stand-up comedy shows of Kunal Kamra and Munawar Farooqui has drawn sharp criticism on social media.

Kunal Kamra wrote on his Twitter, “Hello Bengaluru People. I am happy to inform that my shows in Bengaluru scheduled over the next 20 days have been cancelled. They have been cancelled for two reasons. Firstly, we didn’t get special permission to seat 45 people in the venue that seat more. Secondly threats have been made to shut down the venue if I were to perform.

“I guess this is also part of the Covid protocol and new guidelines. I suppose I am seen as a variant of the virus now. For those who were wondering how ‘A Kamra’ goes on the perform while a Faruqui has had to quit comedy’ we can find solace in the fact that the ruling class is at least trying to oppress with equality,” he stated with irony.

“May be if we continue down the road of equal oppression, we would get to a point of equal liberation, in a post climate change era,” he opined.

He has also put up five steps to get the show cancelled and ridiculed the ruling establishment.

The police earlier in the case of Munawar Faruqui stated that the stand-up comedian is a controversial figure as he has made controversial statements on other religions and gods. The police also cited examples of cases registered against Munawar in Tukoganj police station of Indore in Madhya Pradesh and other states. They also claimed that many states have banned his shows.

Munawar Faruqui had tweeted, “Nafrat jeet hai, Artist haar gaya. I’m done! Goodbye! INJUSTICE”. (victory of hatred, defeat of an artist)

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DIG rank officer suspended on extortion charges in Bihar





A DIG rank officer has been suspended on charges of extorting money from his juniors, a Home Ministry official said here on Thursday.

A notification in this regard was issued by the ministry on Wednesday night holding Shafi-Ul-Haq guilty of alleged involvement in corruption.

The notification was based on a report of the state’s Economic Offence Wing (EOW) submitted on Tuesday.

As per the EOW report, Haq was deployed as DIG of Munger range before June this year. During his tenure in Munger, he was involved in extortion with junior officers of police department. He was also having a trusted officer named Mohamad Umran, a sub-inspector of Munger police. Umran had hired an agent to extort money from junior personnel of the department.

On the basis of several complaints against him, an investigation was conducted which found the charges to be true. Accordingly, he was transferred to police headquarters in Patna on June 19, 2021. The department also initiated EOW inquiry against him.

Haq, after the transfer from Munger on June 19, he was waiting a posting until the suspension of his notification was not issued.

The Home Ministry has directed him to report before Patna range IGP office during suspension period.

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