ED says PFI member Rauf Sharif funded Hathras trip of Siddique Kappan, others

Rauf Sharif was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a criminal money laundering probe conducted against the Popular Front of India (PFI).
ED says PFI member Rauf Sharif funded Hathras trip of Siddique Kappan, others
ED says PFI member Rauf Sharif funded Hathras trip of Siddique Kappan, others
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Popular Front of India's student wing leader KA Rauf Sharif, who was arrested on Saturday,  had received huge amounts of money in his bank accounts through suspicious transactions, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) submitted to a court in Kochi on Sunday. In a remand report submitted in a special court in Kochi, the ED stated that Sharif had funded the trip of Delhi-based Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan and three others — Atiq-ur Rehman, Masood Ahmed and Alam —  to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh. They were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police in October on their way to Hathras, where a Dalit woman died after being allegedly gang-raped. 

The ED arrested Sharif after he was apprehended by authorities at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on Saturday, official sources told PTI. Sharif was "evading" ED summons in connection with a money-laundering probe being conducted against the Kerala-based PFI. 

According to the remand report to the PMLA court, Sharif, the National General Secretary of Campus Front of India, transferred money to Ateequr Rahman, National Treasurer of CFI, to his personal account with direction to go to Hathras with a delegation. He then called Masood Ahmed, a Jamia Millia Islamia College student and CFI activist, who agreed to come along with him. Sharif then called and informed Ateequr that Siddique Kappan, a journalist, wanted to go to Hathras. The remand report says that Siddique was a journalist in PFI mouthpiece ‘Thejas’ and covered the events organised by CFI and PFI. 

While Ateequr Rahman said that he and Siddique Kappan had been acquainted for one year, the journalist said he met Ateequr and Alam for the first time during the journey. However, the report stated that Siddique lied in his statement that he did not know Ateequr.

Siddique Kappan, Atiq-ur Rehman, Masood Ahmed and Alam were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on October 5 while on their way to Hathras. According to the police, they were going to Hathras “with the ulterior motive of disturbing social harmony and inciting communal riots."

The trip was allegedly funded by Campus Front of India national general secretary KA Rauf Sharif, who transferred the money for the said purpose to the bank account of one of those arrested, the ED said in the report.

The central agency alleged that Sharif maintains three bank accounts and an analysis of the accounts revealed a total credit and debit of Rs 1.35 crore in one of them during 2018- 20.

Also, a foreign remittance of Rs 29.18 lakh was received during April-June 2020 from two people and the purpose of remittance has been mentioned in the bank records as "payments to hotels by nationals of all FATF compliant countries/NRIs for their stay."

"This purpose looks suspicious as it implies that Rauf Sharif either owns a hotel in India or Oman, for which payments were made by the duo for stay, even though hotels were not operational during the period April-June 2020 due to COVID-19.

Additionally, there are major “high-value expenses by Sharif for purpose of land and vehicle purchase," the report added.

Besides, it was found that there was a credit/debit of Rs 20 lakh in his Axis Bank account in 2020.

The ED said during the recording of Sharif's statement at Kochi zonal office of the directorate, he did not divulge information about his foreign remittances.

He was evasive in his response and did not cooperate with the investigation, the ED said in the report seeking his judicial remand.

Considering the plea, the court sent Sharif to 14-day judicial remand. 

(With inputs from PTI)

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