'No pressure on agencies probing smuggling case'

No pressure on agencies probing smuggling case

Coimbatore: There was no pressure from the Centre on the agencies investigating the Kerala gold smuggling case to get statements from the accused against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said here on Monday.

"There is no pressure of any sort on the investigating agencies, be it the Enforcement Directorate or the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The agencies are working and investigating independently," Muraleedharan, a BJP leader from Kerala, told reporters here.

He was responding to a question on an audio clip in which accused Swapna Suresh, now in judicial custody, purportedly said the investigation agencies were trying to force her to give a statement against Vijayan.

The NIA, the ED and the Customs were conducting separate probes into the smuggling of gold through the Thiruvananthapuram airport using the diplomatic channel allegedly by Suresh and others.

The Kerala police has ordered a probe into the voice clip after the ED made a request to the prisons DGP.

On the opposition to contentious central farm laws from Congress, the union minister of state said these would benefit farmers, who were suffering to get remunerative prices for their produce.

They can decide the prices and sell anywhere, he said.

Attacking Rahul Gandhi without naming him, Muraleedhan said a Congress leader who is an MP from Wayanad in Kerala should know the ground reality of agriculture in the state and inform the party workers that there were no restrictions on sale of farm produce and clear their doubts.

To another question on the Kerala Police Act Amendment Ordinance, which the state government on Monday put on hold, he said it was draconian and if implemented it will be against freedom of speech and media.

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