National Investigation Agency (NIA). (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Aug 5 : The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday said that it arrested two more people in connection with its probe into the Kerala gold smuggling case, taking the number of those held so far to 12.

An NIA spokesperson said that Sharafudeen, 38, a resident of Malappuram, and Shafeeq, 31, a resident of Palakkad, had assisted key conspirator Ramees K.T., who has already been arrested, to collect the smuggled gold.

The official said that the two were arrested after their roles in the conspiracy and smuggling of gold through the diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram surfaced in the investigation.

The official said that during custodial interview of Ramees, it was revealed that he was aided and assisted by Sharafudeen and Shafeeq in collecting the smuggled gold from Sandeep Nair, who has also been arrested, at Thiruvananthapuram and further distributing the contraband among thee other co-conspirators.

The arrested accused were produced before the NIA Special Court in Ernakulam which sent them to four days' NIA custody.

The NIA had found links of Popular Front of India (PFI) in the case on Sunday following two fresh arrests by the agency on Saturday.

Muhammad Ali Ebrahim and Muhammad Ali were held by the NIA on Saturday after they were found to be part of the conspiracy in the case that rocked Kerala and has caused a huge dent to the image of Chief Minister Pinarai Vijayan after links of a key accused to IAS officer M. Sivasankar, who was Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and well as state IT Secretary, surfaced. Sivasankar was removed from the posts and later suspended.

On July 30, the NIA arrested Jalal A.M. and Said Alavi E. for conspiring with Ramees to smuggle gold through diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate at Thiruvananthapuram.

The NIA arrested two more accused, identified as Mohammed Shafi P. and Abdu P.T., on July 31 for playing similar roles in the crime.

The gold smuggling case first surfaced when P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate, was arrested by the Customs on July 5 when he allegedly was facilitating the smuggling of 30 kg gold in diplomatic baggage from Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram.

The case became murkier when the name of Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate and later employed with the Kerala government's IT Department, came to light. Her links with Sivasankar came up later during the investigation.

Swapna and co-accused Sandeep Nair of Kochi were arrested by the NIA from Bengaluru after the case was handed over to the agency.

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