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October 2020
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ED grills Farooq Abdullah for six hours in JKCA graft case, People''s Alliance says it''s vendetta        NCW seeks explanation from Kamal Nath for his remarks against MP minister        Imran Khan incapable and clueless; betrayed people of Pakistan: Opposition leaders        Nawaz Sharif''s son-in-law arrested in Pakistan        Kerala''s Covid tally touches 3.33 lakh with 5,022 fresh cases        HC restrains Customs from arresting Sivasankar till Oct 23, suspended officer discharged from hospital        Buttler, bowlers guide RR to seven-wicket win over CSK        Punjab beat MI in second Super Over        Saina, Sindhu's biggest Graffiti in India unveiled        Trump leans into fear tactics in bid to win Midwest states        US polls: New Congress could have more Indian Americans to the House Advertisement        Active COVID-19 cases below 8 lakh for 2nd day in row; recovery rate 88.03 pc        Flood situation grim in parts of Telangana, Karnataka        Dalit woman gang-raped at gunpoint in UP        Army pressed into service in 4 flood-hit Karnataka dists; CM to undertake aerial survey        Pakistan pacer Umar Gul announces retirement from all forms of cricket        HDFC Bank Q2 net profit rises 16% to Rs 7,703 cr        Biden warns Trump wants to scrap health law        BJP govt has surrendered in front of criminals: Akhilesh        Rahul Gandhi, Capt Amarinder vow to force centre to revoke black farm laws        
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Kerala News
NIA questions Ker Minister Jaleel for over 8 hours; No need for him to resign, says CM
 
Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Minister K T Jaleel was questioned for over eight hours on Thursday by the NIA probing the terror angle in the gold smuggling case, prompting the opposition to intensify protests demanding his resignation, but Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan rejected it. Rallying behind Jaleel, Vijayan said there was no need for the former to resign and that he appeared before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as it wanted to get "some information" from him. The Higher Education Minister appeared before the NIA a week after he was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in accepting consignments of Holy Quran brought from UAE through diplomatic channels.

He arrived at the Kochi office of the NIA, which is also probing the gold smuggling through diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, at 6 AM in a private car and left around 5 PM. According to media reports, the questioning of Jaleel by the NIA began at 9 AM.However, there was no official information. Sources in Central agencies had earlier said they have to investigate whether there were any other illegal items shipped along with the Quran. Earlier, the call records of Swapna Suresh, a primeaccused in the gold smuggling case and a former employee of the UAE consulate at the state capital, had revealed that Jaleelwas in touch with her.

The Minister, however, had claimed his calls to her were strictly professional as they were made after the consulateGeneral assigned Suresh, who was working then in the UAE consulate, to coordinate the distribution of Ramzan food kits. The Chief Minister''s Office sources on Thursday said the statement of Jaleel, holding the Minority Affairs portfolio also, was recorded by the NIA as a witness. There was heavy police security around the NIA office as the news broke about the minister presenting himself before the probe agency. Activists of opposition Congress and BJP continuedtheir protests for the sixth consecutive day at several places, including near the NIA office, demanding the resignation of the Minister and also the LDF government headed by Vijayan.

Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala said the NIA normally questions someone for a scheduledcrime and at least now Vijayan should seek the resignation of Jaleel and the LDF Ministry itself should quit. Rejecting the demands, Vijayan said: "Jaleel appeared before the NIA as the agency wanted to get some information from him.I have not spoken to him about what NIA has asked. Anyhow, there is no chance for any case against him". "There is no need for him to resign. He didn''t ask for the Quran or Sakkath (charity offered during Ramzan). The Quran was not smuggled. It came to the airport and the customs cleared it," he told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, when asked if the minister would be asked to put in his papers.

Vijayan said the UAE consulate had received the baggage of the Quran and sought the help of Jaleel because he was also the minister for minorities affairs, adding he could not understand what was the complaint regarding Quran. "He (Jaleel) has not committed any crime. But since there were complaints with the investigation agencies, they are seeking clarity. Let them investigate. We are not opposing it," the chief minister said. He said UDF convenor Benny Behanan and otherBJP leaders had given a complaint against the minister to the central agency. "That''s understandable.But on what basis is the Muslim League, a coalition partner of opposition UDF, engaged in the protests?" Vijayan asked. The opposition agitation turned violent in several places, with police using lathi charge and water cannons to chase away the activists, many of whom were injured in the action.

A police official said 12 of their personnel were also injured with three of them suffering shoulder dislocation. Congress MLA V T Balaram, who was among those injured in the lathicharge atPalakkad, alleged thepolice action was without any provocation and demanded aninquiry. As the opposition sharpened its attack against the ruling LDF, the leadership of the CPI(M), including senior leader and Law Minister A K Balan, came out in the support of the embattled minister, saying "seeking information" was part of the procedure of investigation and there was no need for anyone to resign. Speaking to reporters at Haripad inAlappuzha, Chennithala demanded that the LDF government resign.

"The NIA normally questions someone for a scheduledcrime. At least now, the Chief Minister should seek theresignation of Jaleel. It seems like the Chief Minister isrefusing to seek the resignation because he fears the probewill reach his office. The government should resign underthese circumstances and face elections," he said. Balan said the demand for resignation would have some sense if Jaleel had been arraigned as an accused inany case. "It''s just part of the procedure that theinvestigating agency seeks information on the matters. Thereis no need for anyone to resign just because some allegationswere raised," he said in Palakkad.

BJP state chief K Surendran said theallegations faced by Jaleel were serious and sought hisresignation and also asked the government to step down. Jaleel had earlier admitted that a consignmentcontaining copies of Quran had been received from the UAE Consulatein Thiruvananthapuram which a top Customs official hadreferred to as "prima facie violation of FCRA". After the media reported about his interrogation bythe ED, the minister had posted on Facebook: "Truth willprevail. Only the truth. Even if the whole world opposes it,nothing else will happen."


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