ED files 1st chargesheet against PFI; claims it wanted to spread terror after Hathras rape case
New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate has filed its first chargesheet against Popular Front of India and its students' wing on money laundering charges, claiming its members wanted to "incite communal riots and spread terror" in the aftermath of the last year Hathras gang rape case. The central agency has been probing the Popular Front of India (PFI), formed in 2006 in Kerala and headquartered in Delhi, since 2018. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) recently started investigations into the Islamic organisations' alleged role in "funding" anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests and the communal riots which took place in Delhi last year. The prosecution complaint or chargesheet was filed before a special PMLA court in Lucknow on Wednesday under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Those named include PFI member and students' wing Campus Front of India's (CFI) national general secretary K A Rauf Sherif, CFI national treasurer Atikur Rahman, Delhi CFI general secretary Masud Ahmed, a journalist "associated with PFI" Siddique Kappan, and Mohammed Alam, who is a member of the CFI and the PFI.
The special court took cognisance of the ED chargesheet and issued summons to the five accused for appearing before it on March 18 and face trial, official sources said on Thursday.
Rauf was arrested by the ED from an airport in Kerala in December last year while he was "trying to flee the country".
The rest four were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police in Mathura last year while they were on their way to Hathras after the alleged gangrape and death of a Dalit woman in that district. The ED claimed in a statement issued here that the four were going to "disturb communal harmony, incite violence and spread terror."
A fresh PMLA case was filed by the ED against PFI operatives on the basis of a Uttar Pradesh Police FIR. The agency said its probe found "that the visit (to Hathras) of these PFI/CFI members was under the instructions of Rauf Sherif and funds for the same were also provided by him." "ED investigation has established that Rauf Sherif entered into a criminal conspiracy with PFI members stationed in Gulf countries to fraudulently transfer money raised/collected abroad by PFI in the guise of payments related to business transactions," it said.
"The money was laundered through different layers and eventually reached Rauf Sherif and his associates belonging to PFI and CFI," the ED said.
Calling these funds of Rs 1.36 crore as "proceeds of crime, the agency said that it was obtained as a result of criminal activity relating to criminal conspiracy. Part of the funds was used by PFI and CFI office bearers, members, activists in India "for their continuous unlawful activities over the 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 chargesheet that is the purported visit of PFI/CFI to Hathras with an intent to disturb communal harmony, incite communal riots and spread terror", the ED said.