The National Investigation Agency, investigating the Kerala gold smuggling case, on Wednesday told a special court in Kochi that it suspects two of the accused have links with Pakistan-based underworld terrorist Dawood Ibrahim’s gang, ANI reported. The central agency made the submission while strongly opposing the bail applications of all the seven accused in the case.

The accused, Rameez and Sharafudheen, had smuggled gold from Tanzania to the United Arab Emirates and from there to India, according to the NIA. “Tanzania and Dubai are the main places where the D-company is active,” it added. “In fact D-company’s affairs in Tanzania are handled by a South Indian named Firoz Oasis...Rameez was also caught by the Customs in November 2019 for smuggling 13.22 mm bore rifles. This happened when the gold smuggling was taking place.”

The NIA also informed the court that they have retrieved a photo of Sharafudheen holding a rifle in Tanzania. The anti-terror agency quoted the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee’s narrative summary on Ibrahim and the fact sheet published by the US Department of Treasury on his gang’s activities in Africa, according to PTI.

The agency said the suspected links need to be investigated. It stated that the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, the apex body for economic agencies in India, had sent a report to the Director General of NIA in October last year about the probable use of proceeds from gold smuggling in Kerala for terrorism and other “anti-national” activities.

The NIA gave the intelligence report to the court in a sealed envelope. In the report, the central agency also said one of accused, Mohammed Ali, was a member of “fundamentalist organisation Popular Front of India” and was named in the chargesheet of the hand chopping case of a Kerala professor in 2010. But he was acquitted as 90 prosecution witnesses had turned hostile during trial.

“It is submitted that the facts now emerging during investigation, regarding the charges under Sections 17 and /or 18 of the UAPA Act against accused with otherwise apparently minor roles, indicate that the intelligence input received from CEIB, leading to NIA investigation in this crime, is gaining credence. This makes the investigation, by detaining all accused in judicial custody till 180 days, absolutely necessary, in this crime having transnational ramifications.”

— NIA to Kochi court

The accused have challenged the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the smuggling case, saying that it comes under economic offence and no terror angle was involved.

The gold, which was concealed in imported plumbing material, was seized on July 5 by the Customs officials upon inspection of an air cargo consignment addressed to the Consular General of the United Arab Emirates in Thiruvananthapuram district.