Kerala gold smuggling case: Key UAE-based conspirator brought back to India, arrested by NIA
HT was first to report on September 2 that Hameed, 42, a native Ernakulam district, Kerala, was the mastermind who used to send the gold consignments to India using different modes including the diplomatic baggage.Updated: Oct 26, 2020, 20:29 IST
In a key development in Kerala gold smuggling case, key conspirator, Rabins K Hameed, who was running the whole operation from Dubai, was brought to India on Monday by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and taken into custody at Kochi airport in Kerala, people familiar with the development said.
HT was first to report on September 2 that Hameed, 42, a native Ernakulam district, Kerala, was the mastermind who used to send the gold consignments to India using different modes including the diplomatic baggage.
The NIA, during a trip to Dubai in August, had questioned him there and had confirmed his involvement.
Over the past few months, irrefutable evidence was provided to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities through proper channels to convince them for his deportation which was approved a few days back, people cited above said.
As part of the deportation process, an NIA team travelled to Dubai last week and brought him at the Kochi International Airport on Monday morning after which he was arrested.
The case pertains to the seizure of 30 kilograms of gold worth Rs 14.82 crores on July 5 at Air Cargo of Trivandrum International Airport by Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Cochin, from the diplomatic baggage. Over two dozen people have already been arrested in the case.
The NIA, earlier this month, also claimed before a Kerala court that two accused in the high profile case – identified as KT Ramees and M Sharafuddin - have links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Ramees and Sharafuddin even visited Tanzania several times to meet a contact of Dawood known as Feroze ‘Oasis’ and had discussed ways to smuggle firearms to India, the NIA claimed.
Agency spokesperson, Sonia Narang, said on Monday that “Rabins Hameed, while being in the UAE and India, had conspired with the arrested accused Ramees KT and Jalal AM, among others, besides arranging funds and purchasing gold in Dubai for smuggling to India through diplomatic baggage.”
Ramees KT is the key India link in the whole scandal and is currently in judicial custody.
Narang said that a special court at Ernakulam had issued a non-bailable warrant against fugitive Rabins Hameed.
“He is also learnt to have arranged for the concealment of gold in electronics or electrical equipment and household items in the UAE for smuggling the contraband to Thiruvananthapuram through diplomatic baggage,” she added.
Before the NIA’s visit to Dubai in August, it was believed that another suspect there – Fazil Fareed – was the main conspirator.
However, it turned out that Rabins Hameed had contacted Fareed for the last consignment of 30 kilograms of gold which was intercepted in diplomatic baggage on July 5.
Hameed’s residence in Ernakulam was also raided the same month wherein several hard disks and incriminating material was recovered.
“Hameed coordinated the smuggling from the UAE while another arrested accused Ramees KT, who is from Kerala’s Perinthalmanna, allegedly ran the racket in Kerala,” an officer who didn’t want to be named said.
People cited above said deportation of Fazil and two more people - Sidhiqul Akbar and Ahammed Kutty - is also being pursued with the UAE authorities.
Recently, the NIA also took over two more gold smuggling cases - pertaining to seizure of 18.5 kilograms of gold in Jaipur by Rajasthan police on July 3 and transportation of gold bars weighing over 83 kilograms by the Directorate of Revenue and Intelligence (DRI) on August 28 - to investigate foreign terror link. Both the cases aren’t linked to the Kerala case.