Protests erupted in several districts of Kerala on Thursday as opposition parties demanded the resignation of state education minister KT Jaleel, who is being questioned in connection with the Kerala gold smuggling case.
KT Jaleel had reached Kochi on Thursday morning for questioning by the NIA.
Opposition lawmaker from the Congress VT Balaram were injured when the police charged at protesters with batons from Congress and BJP at Palakkad. Both leaders had sustained injuries due to police action.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala called the police action as Vijayan-led government’s measure to ‘suppress a genuine protest.’
While speaking to ANI, Chennithala said, “NIA questioning KT Jaleel is serious. NIA normally probes terrorism crimes. The #Kerala Education Minister’s involved in this gold smuggling case & the public are disgusted with this govt. So the UDF is planning a more vigorous agitation.”
Several BJP workers protesting at the State Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram were also dispersed using water cannons, according to a video shared by news agency ANI.
The workers in the video were mostly women and were seen protesting standing next to the police barricade. There was widespread commotion as the water cannon fired high speed streams of water.
KT Jaleel came in the crosshairs of the opposition party when investigation revealed that the minister had spoken to Swapna Suresh – one of the main accused in the gold smuggling case – several times, according to phone records accessed by the agencies.
The gold smuggling case was taken up by police after the customs officials at the Thiruvananthapuram airport seized 30 kg gold from a consignment that came in the name of an official of the UAE consulate.
Two senior officials, CM’s principal secretary M Sivasankar and CM’s IT official Arun Balachandran have been removed by the state government because of their connection with the gold smuggling case. 30 people have been arrested so far for their involvement with the case.
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