THE ENFORCEMENT Directorate (ED) Thursday conducted nationwide raids on premises linked to the radical outfit, Popular Front of India (PFI), in connection with multiple cases of alleged money laundering.
Sources said the searches covered 26 locations across nine states, including premises associated with PFI chairman O M Abdul Salam and national secretary Nasarudheen Elamaram.
The ED is probing the PFI in multiple cases, including its alleged role in the anti-CAA stir and the northeast Delhi riots, and a foreign funding case in 2018. Last month, the ED said it was probing alleged links between the PFI and Bhim Army.
The sites raided Thursday are in Chennai, Tenkasi and Madurai (TN), Bengaluru (Karnataka), Darbhanga and Purnea (Bihar), Lucknow and Barabanki (UP), Aurangabad (Maharashtra), Kolkata and Murshidabad (West Bengal), Jaipur (Rajasthan), Shaheen Bagh (Delhi) and Kochi, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala).
Reacting to the ED action, PFI’s Kerala chief C P Muhammed Basheer accused the agency of raiding the organisation’s offices and the houses of its leaders “only to divert attention from the farmers’ protest”. “There is conspiracy and political vengeance behind the raid,” he said.
However, an ED note on these cases claimed that the outfit, and entities allegedly linked to it, hold 73 bank accounts in 17 different banks, including 27 linked to the PFI, nine to Rehab India Foundation (RIF) and 37 to individuals/other entities.
“Foreign contributions of Rs 5O lakh were credited in RIF bank account from 3 foreign entities even though RIF is not having FCRA registration,” the note claimed.
According to ED officials, the statements of several persons linked to PFI and RIF have been recorded till date and none of them has been able to explain the specific source of funds and disbursal areas.
“In many accounts, the amount is credited through cash deposits/ bank transfers and is thereafter immediately withdrawn in cash/ transferred to other accounts leaving nominal balance. Highly irregular flow of credits and debits are seen with long dormant periods followed by sudden spurt in transactions. Disproportionately high cash deposits/ withdrawals are seen in many accounts,” the ED note claimed.
In January, a report sent by the ED to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) alleged that PFI has funded protests against the CAA and the NRC across the country. The report had further alleged that the PFI received Rs 120.5 crore which were withdrawn either on the same day or within two to three days.
Responding at the time to the contents of the report, the PFI denied any financial link between the organisation and the protests. It said that “the allegation of Rs 120 crore transferred from the Popular Front’s accounts just before the CAA protest is totally baseless”. —(With Shaju Philip in Thiruvananthapuram)
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