February 12, 2021 3:26:45 am
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a Prosecution Complaint (equivalent to a chargesheet) against five office-bearers and members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its student wing Campus Front of India (CFI), claiming that the organisation funded and participated in anti-CAA protests of 2019-20, the February 2020 Delhi riots and the protests around the death of a woman in Hathras.
The accused include journalist Siddique Kappan; Atikur Rahman, national treasurer of CFI; Masud Ahmed, Delhi general secretary of CFI; and Md Alam, a CFI/PFI member. All four were arrested by UP Police in October last year while on their way to cover the Hathras case and slapped with charges of terrorism.
The ED case is based on the FIR registered by UP Police.
The ED claimed in its prosecution complaint that the national general secretary of CFI, K A Rauf Sherif—arrested by ED on December 12 last year–raised funds through PFI members in the Gulf and channelled the same into India through fraudulent transactions.
While the ED prosecution complaint is limited to the Hathras case, in a statement it said: “This ‘proceeds of crime’ amounting to around Rs. 1.36 Crore was obtained as a result of criminal activity relating to the offence of criminal conspiracy under section 120-B of IPC and part of it was used by PFI/CFI office bearers/members/activists in India for their continuous unlawful activities over time which included, but were not limited to, funding of anti-CAA protests, inciting violence and fomenting trouble which led to Delhi riots in the month of February 2020; and in respect to the more specific incident investigated in this Prosecution Complaint, which was the purported visit of PFI/CFI to Hathras with intent to disturb communal harmony, incite communal riots and spread terror.”
It also alleged that part of this money was used for purchase of land and was thus parked to enable its future use by PFI/CFI. It claimed that K A Sherif funnelled funds to Masud Ahmed and Atikur Rehman. It was from these funds, ED claimed, that a car was bought by Masud for Rs 2.25 lakh to travel to Hathras 15 days before their arrest.
“Further, investigation has revealed that PFI has been involved in anti-CAA protests and several PFI members/activists were also arrested by the Delhi Police in connection with their investigation in the said Delhi riots case. For instance, Md. Danish, a PFI member was arrested by the Delhi Police in connection with investigations in FIR no. 59/2020. ED is separately investigating money laundering in the Delhi riots of February 2020,” it said.
Last year, ED had conducted search operations at premises associated with PFI. It has claimed the searches led to seizure of evidence which revealed that PFI has been collecting huge amounts of funds abroad.
“These funds have been remitted to India through hawala / underground channels and through remittances sent to the accounts of members/activists/office bearers of PFI and related organisations and also to their family members and associates. Further, statutory compliance for collection of funds abroad and their remittance to India have not been done by PFI and its related organisations like Rehab India Foundation (which received around Rs. 50 lakh as foreign contribution from abroad) as they are not registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976,” ED said.
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