ED ‘questions’ Jaleel in gold smuggling case

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday demanded the resignation of Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel on the ground that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had questioned him in connection with its probe into the UAE-consulate linked gold smuggling case.

News reports that the ED had questioned Mr. Jaleel in Kochi for close to four hours prompted Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala to demand his resignation. Neither the ED nor Mr. Jaleel has confirmed nor denied the reports directly.

However, the ‘disclosure’ by television channels that Mr. Jaleel had arrived at the ED office in a private car triggered a clamour for his resignation. Mr. Chennithala said Mr. Jaleel’s ‘wrongdoings’ had brought the Central law enforcement to the doorstep of the government.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Mullappally Ramachandran said it was the first time that a Cabinet Minister had found himself on the wrong side of Central agencies.

BJP State president K. Surendran said Mr. Vijayan was scared to seek Mr. Jaleel’s resignation because the Minister had ‘partnered’ with the Chief Minister in several economic crimes. He accused Mr. Jaleel of accepting foreign aid without Central sanction and abetting the smuggling of gold in Koran consignments addressed to the UAE consulate here.

The Minister was not immediately available for comments. However, in an interview with The Hindu on August 13, Mr. Jaleel had elaborated in detail on the issue. He had received 32 packets containing copies of the Holy Koran from the consulate. He was willing to return the books if any agency pointed out violation of protocol or other international covenants. He said the packets remained unopened and were at the disposal of any investigating agency.

Mr. Jaleel said he had also accepted provision packets from the consulate for distribution to needy families during Ramzan. He had interacted with UAE consulate officials in his capacity as Minister for Minority Welfare and Waqf. The gifting of the Holy Koran and distribution of food were part of the Ramzan tradition worldwide.

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