The high-profile probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the national security implications of the high-profile case relating to the smuggling of gold via air cargo shipments addressed to the UAE consulate here appeared to be edging closer to at least two State police officers on Saturday.
By some accounts, the NIA has evinced interest in a policeman who worked on deputation as a personal security officer (PSO) to a top official at the consulate. The officer had surrendered his official sidearm after the diplomat left for the UAE. He later went missing, and the police found him hiding in an abandoned plot near his house.
The law enforcement found his conduct erratic and has recorded his statement. They have also verified his phone contacts and singled out a colleague of his who had worked in the emigration for questioning.
Customs has also evinced interest in the former PSO because he had worked in the consulate alongside P.S. Sarith and Swapna Suresh, the first and second accused in the smuggling case respectively.
Meanwhile, the NIA escorted Swapna and Sandeep Nair, another accused in the case, to the capital.
Pursued by television camera crew, the NIA agents took them to several premises, including a high rise in which former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan M. Sivasankar, held a rented apartment.
The Customs had also inspected the place earlier on the suspicion that the accused could have used another apartment on the same floor to open shipments containing contraband gold.
The NIA’s presence in the capital triggered intense speculation that the agency might question Mr. Sivasankar. The bureaucrat had lost his key post in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) due to his alleged association with the alleged smugglers.
An inquiry by a committee headed by the Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta had found that Mr Sivasankar had “made a reference to appoint a person (Swapna)”, working at the time as secretary to the Consul General, UAE, as operations manager, Space Park.
The committee had also pointed out that “such association and frequent contacts with a foreign consulate official” violated the All India Service Conduct Rules, 1968. It said it had recommended Mr. Sivasankar’s suspension from service “in view of the wider ramifications of this case”.
A senior official said the committee’s finding could open the door for the NIA to examine Mr. Sivasankar.