Enforcement Directorate has stated that the Popular Front of India (PFI) mobilised Rs 120 crore to fund anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in India. The ED has sent a note to the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding its findings. The ED stated that 27 bank accounts were opened in the name of PFI. An organisation associated with PFI called Rehab India Foundation held nine of these 27 bank accounts, it stated. ED said in the report that the foundation opened 37 bank accounts in the name of 17 different people and organisations.
The Enforcement Directorate said that about Rs 120 crore were deposited in 73 accounts to dodge the investigations. However the accounts were emptied leaving a nominal amount in the accounts.
It said that Rs 1.04 crore were deposited in 15 bank accounts of PFI (10) and Rehab India Foundation (5) from December 4, which is when the CAA was presented at the Parliament till January 6, 2020. The ED said that the amounts deposited were in the form of cash and IMPS. The amounts varied from Rs 5,000 to Rs 49,000. The ED said that the amount was kept below Rs 50,000 so that the identity of the depositor is not disclosed.
ED stated that Rs 1.34 crore was withdrawn from these 15 accounts through cash and NEFT, IMPS using mobile phones during the same period of December 4-January 6. "It is evident from the nature of withdrawal that member of PFI have used swift mode of transferring the money," stated the agency.
It said that small amounts varying from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 were transferred to several individuals. It said that on certain days like December 21 and December 12 more than 80 to 90 withdrawals were made from a single account.
The ED stated that the "withdrawal of money from the bank accounts of PFI and its related entities has direct correlation with a violent demonstration against the CAA". "The transaction dates in the 15 bank accounts of the PFI also match the dates of violence. This draws a clear connection between the violent protests and PFI," said the agency.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Law enforcement agencies are doing their job, I need not make any comment. But if there is suspicious nature of transaction on a particular day then obviously it raises serious apprehension and protests that are organised don't look voluntary."
The report comes amid the government's suspicions that PFI had a role to play in the recent violent protests against the CAA in Uttar Pradesh. PFI has also come under the scanner for its alleged role in the violent protests in Karnataka and West Bengal. The government had accused PFI of masterminding and instigating violence during the CAA and NRC protests.
PFI had denied all the allegations. The federation's general secretary M Muhammed Ali Jinnah said that the allegations were absurd and were a face-saving act by the Uttar Pradesh Police.
The PFI has been under the radar of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for a long time. The federation was formed in 2006 as a successor to National Democratic Front (NDF). Intelligence agencies have said that the federation is an offshoot of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) that was designated a terrorist organisation.
Around 25 people linked to PFI were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh government for their alleged role in the anti-CAA protests.
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