Shashi Tharoor’s Aide Detained In Gold Smuggling Case; BJP’s Rajeev Chandrasekhar Hits Out

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New Delhi: Delhi Customs detained two individuals at Delhi’s IGI Airport on Wednesday in connection with an alleged gold smuggling case.

According to sources in Customs quoted by newswire ANI, one of the detainees, Shiv Kumar Prasad, claimed to be the Personal Assistant to Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.

Prasad was at the Delhi Airport to receive a passenger arriving from Dubai. Both individuals were arrested when the passenger attempted to hand over approximately 500 grams of gold to Prasad.

“Prasad possesses an aerodrome entry permit card, granting him access to airport premises. He entered the airport to receive a packet when he was apprehended along with the passenger,” said sources. The Customs authorities confirmed that 500 grams of gold were recovered from their possession. The case is currently under investigation, and their credentials have been verified, sources told ANI.

In response to the incident, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar criticized the Congress and the CPM, labelling them an “alliance of gold smugglers.”

“First CM Secy involved in gold smuggling, now Cong MP ‘aide’/PA detained for gold smuggling. CPM and Cong – both INDI alliance partners – alliance of gold smugglers,” Chandrasekhar posted on X.

Meanwhile, the Congress leader distanced himself from any alleged wrongdoing on Thursday and said that the law must take its own course.

Tharoor, in a post on X, said that the detained person is a former member of his staff who has been rendering part-time service to him. He also extended his support to the authorities in their efforts to take any necessary action.

“While I am in Dharamshala for campaigning purposes, I was shocked to hear of an incident involving a former member of my staff who has been rendering part-time service to me in terms of airport facilitation assistance. He is a 72 year old retiree undergoing frequent dialysis and was retained on a part-time basis on compassionate grounds,” the Congress MP posted on X.”I do not condone any alleged wrongdoing and fully support the authorities in their efforts to take any necessary action that may be required to investigate the matter. The law must take its own course,” he added.

This incident follows the infamous 2020 Kerala gold smuggling scam, where Customs seized 30 kgs of gold at Thiruvananthapuram Airport from a diplomatic bag. The investigation, taken over by the NIA, led to the suspension and removal of M Sivasankar, the principal secretary to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan after his alleged links to one of the accused were revealed.

BJP leader Chandrasekhar, the NDA candidate from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency, faces a tough challenge from Shashi Tharoor, a senior Congress leader and former diplomat, seeking a third term. The CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has fielded CPI leader Pannyan Raveendran, who previously won the seat in 2005.

While the BJP has never won a Lok Sabha seat in Kerala, the party secured a victory in Thiruvananthapuram district once, with O Rajagopal winning the Nemom assembly seat in 2016.

Voting was completed on April 26 in all 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala, along with 88 constituencies across 13 states and union territories in the second phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The elections are being held in seven phases, concluding on June 1, with votes to be counted on June 4.

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