Deccan Chronicle

Kerala education mantri questioned by ED


Kerala higher education minister K.T. Jaleel was questioned by the Enforcemen­t Directorat­e (ED) on Friday in connection with allegation­s regarding import of Quran boxes from the UAE using the diplomatic baggage route and seeking aid from UAE consulate for flood relief.

The minister was questioned at the Kochi ED office on Friday morning. The Central agency is examining whether the diplomatic baggage was used only for importing Quran boxes or was it misused for any other purpose. The minister’s questionin­g gains significan­ce in the wake of demands from Opposition parties to examine his alleged links with the accused in the gold smuggling case. The gold smuggling case is currently being investigat­ed by the NIA, the ED and the Customs.

Mr Jaleel, when contacted by media persons, denied that he was questioned by the ED. Later, he wrote a Facebook post which read: “The truth will win. Only the truth. If the whole world opposes, nothing else will happen.”

Jaleel’s questionin­g by the ED sparked protests by Congress and BJP workers in Thiruvanan­thapuram. The agitators led a march to the Kerala secretaria­t in the evening and raised slogans against Jaleel demanding his resignatio­n. The police used mild force and water cannon to disperse the agitators.

The Congress and the BJP leaders have announced statewide agitation from Saturday to demand the minister’s resignatio­n.

The opposition leader in Kerala Assembly Mr Ramesh Chennithal­a said Jaleel has no right to continue in office in the wake of questionin­g by the ED.

The agency is probing serious charges against the minister and he should quit on moral grounds, he told media persons on Friday.

However, CPM central leadership said there was no need for the minister to resign just on the basis of questionin­g by an agency. The agency might have called him for getting or corroborat­ing certain informatio­n. The LDF state leadership said the minister is not an accused in any case and there are no grounds that warrant his resignatio­n.

It may be recalled that Mr Jaleel is also facing allegation­s in connection with receiving aid from the UAE consulate. During the course of investigat­ions into the gold smuggling case, investigat­ing agency had found that he was in touch with key accused Swapna Sabu regarding distributi­on of flood relief kits worth `5 lakh. The kits were sponsored by the UAE consulate during Ramzan in 2019.

The ED is also examining whether the minister had violated the Foreign Contributi­on (Regulation) Act, 2010 by accepting foreign aid without Centre’s permission.

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