Hyderabad: Even as the decision to ban the Kerala-based radical group Popular Front of India (PFI) is pending before the Centre, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has found that the violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Uttar Pradesh in December last year had a financial link with the PFI.
The ED, in its findings, has said that at least Rs 120 crore was deposited in 73 bank accounts related to PFI and distributed across Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country to fuel anti-CAA protests. The ED is probing the financial transactions of the PFI under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) since 2018.
Deccan Chronicle had recently carried a series of reports about how the anti-CAA protests had infused a new lease of life into the PFI which not only helped it expand its support base considerably (post the passing of the CAA in Parliament last year) but also saw an increase in the funds flow for the Kerala-based organisation, which is accused of several offences.
Quoting the note forwarded by the ED to the Union home ministry, sources said several payments and withdrawals were made in various areas around the time of protests during December last year and January.
It was alleged that the funds deposited in banks were routed from foreign shores and sent to the accounts of certain investment firms.
PFI says it has not violated any rules
The note said that 27 bank accounts were opened in the name of PFI and its affiliates.
At least nine of those accounts were in the name of Rehab India Foundation, which is said to be affiliated to PFI. In turn, the foundation is alleged to have opened 37 bank accounts in the name of different people and organisations among others. The amounts deposited ranged from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000.
“‘Amounts varying from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 were transferred to several individuals. On certain days during the protests in December, close to a 90 withdrawals were made from a single account.
To dodge the agencies, Rs 120 crore was deposited in different accounts. An amount of Rs 1.04 crore was deposited in 15 bank accounts of the PFI and Rehab India Foundation between December 4, 2019, and January 6 this year,” the ED has said adding, “the money trail has proved beyond doubt that the PFI had mobilised the money to fuel the anti-CAA protests.” The agency said that further investigation is on.
Protests against CAA spiralled out of control which left 20 persons dead across UP in December.
However, the PFI has denied any wrong doing. “The news is attributed to ED through some unnamed sources but the ED has not contacted our organisation.
The ED has not issued any such official statement regarding these allegations,” the PFI has said.
The outfit stated that some news channels alleged that the PFI had transferred funds to the accounts of senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal and lawyers Dushyant Dave and Indira Jaising.
“This statement exposes the intention of the vested interested who are keen to blame the PFI for everything that is happening in India.
The truth is that transfers were made in 2017 as lawyer fees for these advocates for the Hadiya case.
This transfer was openly declared by Popular Front in various public meetings. Attributing fee transfer that happened in 2017 as a funding for 2019 CAA protest is totally absurd and exposes the intention to defame Popular Front,’’ the outfit said....