New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has submitted a report to the Ministry of Home Affairs stating that the Popular Front of India (PFI) — a Kerala-headquartered Muslim organisation — has mobilised money to “finance the cost of demonstrations and gherao against the CAA Bill till 6 January 2020”, ThePrint has learnt.
A source in the ED, who confirmed the development, said the agency stumbled upon the information while investigating the PFI’s role in a 2018 case registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The source added that the ED came across bank account details to suggest that Rs 120.5 crore was credited to accounts related to the PFI and that there is a direct correlation between the dates of deposits and withdrawals from these accounts and the dates of demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in different parts of the country.
The ED report also mentions that multiple cash deposits of large amounts were made through PFI’s account in Syndicate Bank, Nehru Place, to accounts in districts of western UP such as Bahraich, Bijnor, Hapur, Shamli, Dasna.
Payments were also made to lawyers Kapil Sibal, Indira Jaising and Dushyant A. Dave and Abdul Samad, an accused in a terror case who was arrested by the National Investigation Agency in February 2018.
“We have submitted a detailed report to MHA and further investigation in remaining aspects is underway,” an ED official said.
The PFI, which has been under the radar of the NIA, is accused of being involved in several political killings, religious conversions apart from links to ISIS and SIMI.
The ED has drawn up a graph with dates of withdrawals made from accounts of PFI and Rehab India Foundation, an outfit connected to PFI, between 4 December 2019 and 6 January 2020, alongside the days of protests and their magnitude — violent or peaceful.
In their report, the ED said that soon after the citizenship amendment bill was introduced in Parliament on 4 December 2019, money started flowing in.
“It has been noticed that Rs 1.04 Crore were deposited in 15 bank accounts of PFI and Rehab India Foundation during the period starting from 4 December 2019 till 6 January 2020. The deposits were in the form of cash and IMPS using mobile and deposit amounts,” the report says.
The ED also mentioned that the amount that was transferred was in the range of Rs 5,000 and Rs 49,000.
“The amount of deposit was kept below Rs 50,000 in order to avoid disclosure of identity of the depositor,” the report says.
It further mentions that a sum of Rs 1.34 crore was withdrawn from these 15 bank accounts by way of cash and NEFT/IMPS using mobile.
“It is evident from the graph capturing date of withdrawal of money from bank account of PFI and its related entities and date of demonstration against the CAA bill that the money was withdrawn immediately before the date of demonstration or during the day of demonstration,” the report said.
“The graph has proved 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,” it added.
The ED has claimed that the withdrawals were made on multiple occasions during one day by several individuals.
“Instances have been noticed that on certain days like on 21 December 2019 and 12 December 2019 more than 80 and 90 withdrawals respectively were made from a single account,” the report says.
‘Payments made to prominent personalities, PFI Kashmir’
The ED report said scrutiny of one PFI bank account — in Syndicate Bank, Mavoor Road, Kozhikode — has revealed that payments were made to Sibal, Jaising, Dave and Samad.
“Payments were made to Kapil Sibal (77 lakhs), Indira Jaisingh (4 lakhs), Dushyant A. Dave (11 lakhs)
Abdul Samad, an accused in NIA chargesheet (3.10 lakhs), one New Jothi Group (Rs 1.17 crore) and PFI Kashmir (Rs 1.65 crore),” the report said.
Sibal denied the allegation, calling it “baseless”.
“This is clear propaganda and unprofessional behaviour on the part of the Enforcement Directorate,” he told ThePrint. “The facts are that I represented Hadiya in 2017 for which I was paid the sum. The first bill was raised by me in August 2017, the last bill was raised in March 2018. Citizenship Amendment Act came in 2019. Where is the link?”
In 2017, Hadiya’s father had filed a petition with the Kerala High Court, alleging that she had been ‘forcibly’ converted to Islam, saying his daughter could be taken away to Syria.
Dave told ThePrint they appeared in the Hadiya case thrice in 2017, and were paid the fee for one appearance. “We appeared in the Hadiya case thrice, on behalf of the petitioners, on 03.10.2017, 09.10.2017 and 30.10.2017. And, one bill was raised for the appearance on 09.10.2017, for which we received the fee on 30.10.2017.”
He added, “There was also a statement released by the PFI detailing the amount spent on litigation fee on 28.03.2018, for the Hadiya case.”
ThePrint also reached Jaising through text messages but there was no response. Several calls to her went unanswered.
Jaising, however, denied the charges in a statement put out on Twitter.
The New Jothi Group, the ED report said, which manufactures plastic bags, is a partnership firm registered in Tamil Nadu with branches across India.
“Since PFI and New Jothi Group are working in two different areas, the nature and reason for transaction is under active investigation,” the report said.
The ED also claimed that it found a sum of Rs 20 lakh was received from one PMA International LLC, Dubai, in the bank account of Rehab India Foundation. The Dubai link is still under investigation.
“Investigation with regard to nature of business activities and source of funds of PMA International LLC, Dubai is continuing,” the report said.
(This report has been updated to include Dushyant A. Dave’s comments.)