The Popular Front of India (PFI), which is an Islamic extremist organization known to stoke communal discord and subsequent violence across the country at the drop of a hat, is now being cornered by the Enforcement Directorate which undertook a massive crackdown drive on the Islamic organization by raiding its 26-locations countrywide.
Searches were conducted in Chennai, Tenkasi and Madurai (Tamil Nadu), Bengaluru, Darbhanga and Purnea (Bihar), Lucknow and Barabanki (Uttar Pradesh), Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Kolkata and Murshidabad (West Bengal), Jaipur, Shaheen Bagh area in Delhi and in Kochi, Malappuram and Thiruvananthapuram districts of Kerala under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
According to the ED, as many as 73 bank accounts maintained by the PFI, its related entity Rehab India Foundation (RIF) and certain individuals/entities with 17 different banks have been detected. Scrutiny of transactions revealed that ₹120.50 crores were credited in these accounts and most of it was withdrawn rather instantly or within a couple of days—suggesting that the money was gliding across hands as riots were funded heavily by PFI and foreign entities.
About ₹50 lakh in foreign contributions was transferred to the RIF’s bank account from three foreign entities, even though it is not registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), the agency alleged.
The ED is attempting to establish the link between the credited funds and the withdrawal of huge amounts of money to the outfit’s alleged involvement in fuelling the Delhi riots and the anti-CAA protests that took place in the country.
The agency has also established that the outfit received funds during the Shaheen Bagh protests. Among the PFI members who have been raided include PFI chairman OMA Salam and National Secretary, Nasaruddin Elamaram.
The ED in January this year submitted a note to the Union Home Ministry saying there “is a direct correlation between the dates of deposits/withdrawals of money from the bank accounts of PFI and those of demonstrations against the CAA”.
“It has been noticed that Rs1.04 crore were deposited in 15 bank accounts of PFI (10) and Rehab India Foundation (5) during the period starting from 04.12.2019 till 06.01.2020. The deposits were in form of cash and IMPS using mobile and deposit amounts varies from Rs 5,000 to Rs 49,000. The amounts have been kept below Rs 50,000 in order to [not] disclose the identity of depositor,” the note said.
Reported by TFI, Tahir Hussain, the former AAP councillor who has confessed on record that he planned the riots to teach ‘Hindus as a lesson had met former JNU student and Islamist– Umar Khalid on January 8, 2020, at the PFI office in Shaheen Bagh. As per the police officials, Tahir used support from Khalid Saifi, Umar Khalid, Ishrat Jahan and Popular Front of India (PFI) member Danish.
At the time, Khalid Saifi had told Tahir that PFI member Danish will be providing all financial assistance needed in the ‘war against Hindus’. Further, Khalid also assured Tahir of funding from the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), some political people, advocates and Muslim organisations.
Apart from its involvement in the Delhi riots, PFI is also accused of orchestrating the Bengaluru riots in the month of August. Over 180 people, many affiliated to the PFI and its political arm SDPI were immediately arrested for being conspirators and participants in the planned frenzy by a violent mob of thousands of radical Muslims.
SDPI leader Muzamil Pasha was also arrested by Bengaluru Police for his role in the mob violence which took place in the DJ Halli Police Station area. Karnataka Minister CT Ravi had termed the entire events of the evening as a ‘planned riot’, saying that within an hour of a post on social media, thousands of people gathered and damaged 200-300 vehicles and the MLA’s residence.
The premier investigative agency of the country—NIA, in 2018 had dubbed the PFI as a threat to national security and the then Union Minister Kiren Rijiju had remarked that the government was considering banning the outfit. However, the government is yet to ban PFI. But with ED collecting copious amounts of evidence from the raids, one can expect the Modi administration to bring down the sledgehammer on an organization that has been accused of riots, arson, forced conversions, the radicalisation of Muslim youths, and linkages with banned outfits.
The crackdown on PFI has begun with a bang and the government should make sure that the ED sees it to fruition, thereby paving the path for such extremist organizations to be uprooted– fair and square, for there are far too many PFI-like organizations working round the clock to tear apart the communal fabric of the country.