The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday raided several offices of Islamic organisation Popular Front of India (PFI) at 26 locations in nine states — Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, New Delhi and Maharashtra. The ED also raided the premises of PFI chairman OM Abdul Salam and its national secretary Nasaruddin Elamaram in Kerala in connection with the 2018 money laundering case that the agency is probing, said ED sources. As part of its investigation, the ED raided the PFI for its alleged role in the 2019 anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019) protests in Delhi and several parts of the country.
Searches began at the PFI’s offices at Chinnapa Garden in Bengaluru’s Benson Town, in Malappuram and Thiruvananthapuram districts of Kerala, and in the Shaheen Bagh area in south-east Delhi. In Kerala, the ED carried out searches at the residence of PFI secretary Nasaruddin Elamarem at Malappuram while another team of the ED officials began a search operation at the home of PFI leader Ashraf Moulavi in Thiruvananthapuram.
ED also raided the house of Karamana Ashraf, another PFI leader from Poonthura of Thiruvananthapuram. However, according to reports, ED officials have given in writing notice that they haven't received anything from his house. Meanwhile, PFI workers were protesting outside his house when ED conducted raids in Thiruvananthapuram.
Watch: ED raids at PFI leaders' house in Thiruvananthapuram
ED sources said that the raids come in the backdrop of the probe into PFI’s funding and that it had gathered evidence of suspicious activity in the organisation’s finances during the investigation into the 2018 money laundering case.
The PFI was formed in 2006 in Kerala as a successor to the National Democratic Front (NDF). PFI and Salam have denied any wrongdoing in these instances in the past. As per reports, ED had given notice to these leaders a month ago to appear before it for questioning.
Nasaruddin Elamaram told the media that there was a case registered against them over some financial issues in 2018. He said that the ED had seized a laptop, two pen drives and two books from his personal library. He also alleged that the current raids were to hide the problems of the Union government.
The agency, which is investigating the PFI under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002) since 2018, alleged the existence of financial links between the anti-CAA protests and PFI. It has also questioned PFI’s office-bearers in the past. The ED had earlier said at least Rs 1.04 crore was deposited in several bank accounts linked to PFI between December 4, 2019, and January 6 this year in various parts of the country and a total amount of Rs 120 crore, credited to bank accounts linked to the PFI.
As part of its investigation, the ED had arrested Tahir Hussain, the Aam Aadmi Party councillor from Delhi in August this year, for allegedly fuelling anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in New Delhi and other parts of the country.
The agency had said that huge amounts of money was deposited into Tahir Hussain’s bank accounts and also in accounts of his relatives, which were allegedly used to fuel anti-CAA protests. During the course of its probe, the ED allegedly found chats between Popular Front of India (PFI) and Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad. The agency had said that the chats found between Chandrashekar Azad and PFI members indicated some activities in the Jama Masjid area during the anti-Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) protests.
With inputs from PTI and IANS