Facing allegations from BJP and Congress over the gold smuggling case, Kerala Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel on Monday asked if facilitating distribution of holy Quran in Kerala is an "anti-national" activity and if the holy book cannot be loaded in a government vehicle.
"After a request of the Consulate of such a country like UAE, which through its embassies and consulates distributes Ramadan food kits and Quran in mosques around the world over the years, if I had facilitated the distribution of the Quran in Kerala is it an anti-national activity. If the interest of the UAE had been denied, would that not have been an act against the national interest?" the Kerala Minister asked in a Facebook post.
"Both the ruling party and the previous ruling party at the Centre say that it is a great sin to load a few bundles of the Holy Quran into a government vehicle that went to Malappuram with books at no extra cost to the public exchequer. How can it be wrong for anyone to give copies of the Quran in mosques as long as the Holy Quran is not banned in India? Do these people think that the Holy Quran cannot be loaded government vehicle? If so, they should be open about it," he said.
Attacking Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs Muraleedharan, Jaleel said that the UAE authorities need to be informed in writing that the distribution of Ramadan kits and copies of the Quran will no longer take place in India.
"Muraleedharan should inform UAE authorities in writing that the distribution of Ramadan kits and copies of the Quran will no longer take place in India. It would be better for him to calmly think about whether it is right to make statements that can divide people," said Jaleel.
The minister said India and the UAE have been sharing warm diplomatic relations for decades.
He said that hundreds of thousands of multi-ethnic Indians work and operate businesses in the UAE.
"As a result, billions of dollars in foreign exchange flow into the country every year. For Indians in general, especially Malayalees, the UAE is another home away from home. It was because of this bond that Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the UAE sought permission from the UAE ruler to build a world-class temple there and the space required for it," he said.
"UAE provided the required construction permits and the required number of acres of free land without any hesitation. On the Kashmir issue, the UAE has also taken a pro-India stance in an international forum. At no point, they had sided with Pakistan," he said.
Earlier, phone call records of Swapna Suresh and Sarith PS, accused in the high profile Kerala gold smuggling case, have revealed that they had conversations with M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to Chief Minister multiple times and that as many as nine calls were made between Jaleel and Swapna.
These do not include the phone calls between Swapna and the minister's personal staff.
Jaleel has admitted to having received and made calls to Swapna said that these were made for official purposes.
Last month, Congress MP Benny Behanan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to take action against Jaleel under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 "for receiving contribution from the UAE Consular General being a representative of the state legislature".
"It has come out in the media that Kerala Minister KT Jaleel had made several phone calls to Swapna Suresh, who is the prime suspect in the gold smuggling case which was unearthed while examining diplomatic baggage which was brought from UAE in the name of Attache of the Consulate. While explaining about the calls, the minister had stated that they were made in regard to the food kits (Ramzan kits) worth Rs 5 Lakh sponsored by UAE Consular General," Behanan stated.
( With inputs from ANI )