August 25, 2021 4:28:34 am
The Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Vadodara city police on Tuesday booked two persons, including Salahuddin Sheikh, managing trustee of Vadodara-based AFMI charitable trust, for allegedly diverting funds from the FCRA (Foreign Contributions Regulation Act) account of the trust, for activities such as illegal religious conversions and construction of mosques in Gujarat and other states, as well as providing a sum of Rs 60 lakh to the protesters against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Delhi in 2019-20.
The Vadodara city SOG has said that the accused forged bills in collusion with the suppliers connected to AFMI trust for its activities to siphon off funds to the tune of Rs 1.65 crore for “unlawful activities”.
A statement from Vadodara city SOG said, “The trust provided the suppliers with cheque payments for Rs 1.65 crore and received cash of the same amount in return to show a legal transaction but used the money for illegal activities in Gujarat and other states for religious conversions and other works that are unlawful in nature. They also submitted the false documents of accounts to the government agencies (monitoring FCRA).”
Sheikh, who was arrested by UP Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in July this year as a co-accused in a case of alleged forced religious conversions, is currently in custody in UP.
According to Vadodara police, Sheikh, along with Mohammad Umar Gautam, the prime accused in the UP ATS case, has been involved in several illegal activities in Maharashtra, UP and Rajasthan. The Vadodara police, which is probing the transactions of the trust from 2017, has also said that Sheikh’s AFMI trust allegedly received Rs 24.49 crore through a Hawala transaction from Dubai in addition to the Rs 19.04 crore siphoned off from the FCRA account of the trust.
The Vadodara police have said that Sheikh diverted a sum of Rs 59.94 lakhs to CAA protestors in Delhi as well as for securing the release of the arrested accused in the Delhi communal clashes. A senior official of the Vadodara city police said, “The FCRA accounts received Rs 19 crore through foreign funds. They forged documents and bills and withdrew the cash in collusion with the suppliers. Of this, Rs 7 crore were used for the construction of mosques in UP, Maharashtra and Rajasthan apart from Gujarat. The funds were originally meant only for the use of the trust for its work related to widows and medical services. It cannot be used for any other purpose. But they also funded CAA protestors and helped the accused in the Delhi riots in securing their release. We also have details of some angadia transactions, through which money was routed to Umar Gautam.”
Umar Gautam is said to be the prime accused in the case filed by the UP ATS in the alleged racket of ‘forced conversions to Islam’. Sheikh, 50, who was the sixth accused arrested in the case in July, is also the Managing Trustee and signing authority of the Muslim Medical Centre in Vadodara, which was one of the major dedicated Covid-19 hospitals in the old city area of Vadodara, also setting an example of communal harmony during the pandemic.
Commissioner of Police, Vadodara, Shamsher Singh said that a team of Vadodara city police will travel to UP to seek custody of the two accused. ” It is an ongoing investigation and more arrests are likely. This is a case booked by the Vadodara police, although it is interconnected to the probe initiated by the UP police,” Singh said.
Sheikh and Gautam have been booked under various IPC sections including 153A (for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 465 (forgery).
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