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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Gujarat: AFMI funding case SIT to hand over custody of accused to local court

The SIT, on Monday, issued fresh summons to Thanawala and another Dubai-based man, Kiden Johar Dhoklawala, to probe into the hawala transactions.

Vadodara |
October 27, 2021 2:33:01 am

The Vadodara Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is probing the alleged misuse of foreign funds of the Vadodara-based American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) charitable trust, will hand over the custody of two accused to the local court as four-days extended remand expires at noon on Wednesday.

The accused are AFMI Managing Trustee Salahuddin Sheikh and Mohammed Umar Gautam of Indian Da’wah Centre (IDC). Officials said that Sheikh has admitted to receiving close to Rs 12 crore hawala funds per year through Dubai that were routed to “propagate Islam” in the border areas of Kashmir and Nepal.

On October 23 evening, the Vadodara court had granted the SIT four days extension of remand, following the end of the six days remand granted by the court in a midnight hearing on October 17.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Crime, DS Chauhan told The Indian Express, “The accused were brought on a production remand issued by the Vadodara court from judicial custody in Uttar Pradesh.

So, as per protocol, they have to be returned to their original custody. Once we produce them in court on Wednesday, they will be taken into judicial custody and a team of Vadodara police will escort them to return them into the custody of Lucknow Central Jail.”

In an investigation into the alleged hawala funds amounting to Rs 60 crore received by AFMI between 2017 and 2021, the accused have admitted to funding propagation of Islam in “impoverished neighbourhoods of border areas”, police said.

ACP Chauhan told this newspaper, “Sheikh has accepted that close to Rs 12 crore per year was routed from Dubai through the hawala network with the help of businessman Mustafa Thanawala and an intermediary from Mumbai. He has admitted that he sent the funds to one Shabbir in Kashmir. They constructed mosques in the border areas… They also undertook similar activities on the Indo-Nepal border. He has also admitted to diverting funds for religious conversion through IDC as well as for protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). They have also constructed two colonies to rehabilitate Rohingya and Bangladeshi Muslims.”

Chauhan said that Vadodara police is “working closely” with two Central agencies to probe money laundering and links to terror outfits. He said, “The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has already taken details of the transactions from us and we are also working with another agency closely on possible terror links to the money trail. Although their custody has ended, our probe into the leads will continue.”

The SIT, on Monday, issued fresh summons to Thanawala and another Dubai-based man, Kiden Johar Dhoklawala, to probe into the hawala transactions. Fresh summon was also issued to UK-based Abdullah Fefdawala, originally from Nabipur in Bharuch district, who has emerged as the key link between Sheikh and Gautam as well as the beneficiaries of the
hawala transactions in Kashmir and other parts of the country, police said.

Vadodara police have booked Sheikh and Gautam for hurting religious sentiments, forgery, cheating and criminal conspiracy.

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