Hathras case: Kerala scribe, PFI members charged under PMLA
- ED, which probes financial crimes, said in a statement: “…probe has revealed that more than ₹100 crore have been deposited in the accounts of PFI over the years and a very large part of this money has been deposited in cash.”
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Thursday it has charged office-bearers of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its students’ wing -- Campus Front of India (CFI) -- for allegedly conspiring to incite violence and disturb harmony in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras, where a Dalit woman was allegedly gang-raped by four upper caste men last September. The 19-year-old died at a hospital in New Delhi.
The charge sheet under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), filed against Atikur Rahman (national treasurer of CFI), Masud Ahmed (Delhi general secretary of CFI), Siddique Kappan (a Kerala-based journalist allegedly associated with PFI), Mohammad Alam (a CFI/PFI member) and KA Rauf Sherif (the national general secretary of CFI and a member of PFI), has been accepted by a special court in Lucknow. It is the first charge sheet under money laundering charges in connection with the case.
ED, which probes financial crimes, said in a statement: “…probe has revealed that more than ₹100 crore have been deposited in the accounts of PFI over the years and a very large part of this money has been deposited in cash.”
The statement added that illegal activities of PFI/CFI included funding protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), fomenting trouble that led to Delhi riots in February 2020, and attempts to disturb harmony in Hathras. The agency said it is trying to ascertain the source of ₹100 crore deposited in the accounts of PFI over the years.
Rahman, Ahmed, Kappan, and Alam were arrested at Mathura by the Uttar Pradesh Police on October 5 while they were on their way to Hathras, ED said.
Probe revealed that they were visiting Hathras on the instructions of KA Rauf Sherif, who also provided funds to incite violence, according to the agency. Sherif was arrested on December 12 from Thiruvananthapuram airport when he was allegedly trying to flee from India.
ED has been separately investigating PFI for the Delhi riots that occurred after months of protests against CAA, which fast-tracks Indian citizenship for non-Muslims from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
PFI has been collecting huge amounts from abroad through members/activists and these funds have been remitted to India through hawala/underground channels, ED said.
PFI rejected what it called ED’s “false claims”. “Members/office bearers of other organizations are portrayed as Popular Front office bearers. This is not an innocent mistake at all. Instead of proving its case through transparent investigations, ED continues to drag the name of Popular Front into fabricated and politically motivated case like the imaginary instigation of caste violence at Hathras…,” Anis Ahmed, PFI general secretary, said in a statement.
He alleged that ED “has zero credibility” and “has been pressurised by the BJP-led central government to defame” PFI.
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