CPI targets Chandy over Kochi airport gold haul

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 24 (IANS) The CPI(M) Tuesday demanded a probe into the Kochi airport gold haul after a former staffer of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy figured on the Facebook contacts list of a smuggling gang kingpin.

"A NIA probe is the need of the hour to reveal if there's more in the relationship that has now surfaced between one of his (Chandy's) former staff and the arrested," demanded former home and tourism minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan of the CPI(M).

"It now appears that Chandy's office has become a place where the unscrupulous make merry as reports have surfaced of the relations that the now arrested person in the gold haul case had," CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters here.

Last week, the customs at Kochi airport nabbed two women who had arrived from Dubai and were possessing 20 kg of gold valued at Rs.6 crore.

On questioning the two women, the authorities stumbled on more evidences and took into custody Fayas, believed to be the leader of the gang doing this business using carriers.

Fayas, when interrogated, blurted out the contacts he had with people in customs, police, film industry and those who matter, prompting a section of the TV media here to weave stories.

CPI(M) has taken up the relation that Fayas maintained with Jikumon Jacob, ex-personal assistant of Chandy.

Jacob was booted out after the 'solar scam' surfaced as he had called up Saritha Nair, who cheated numerous investors who paid for solar panels.

"Yes, when I was in the office of the chief minister, it's quite natural that so many people come to you for various needs, but what is important is if anyone has got undue favours. At the time of solar scam, many people consoled me for what happened to me and I did no wrong," said Jacob to the media here, after the new issue surfaced.

Meanwhile, officials of the Intelligence Bureau, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the Central Bureau of Investigation have begun to unravel the modus operandi of the smuggling gang.

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