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‘PFI gets youths to join ISIS, LeT & had planned to disrupt Modi’s visit,’ ED & NIA tell courts

The agencies have sought custody of the 106 people arrested overnight Thursday in a crackdown on the Popular Front of India.

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New Delhi: In their multiple applications seeking custody of the 106 people arrested in nationwide raids Thursday in a crackdown on the Popular Front of India (PFI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and National Investigation Agency (NIA) told the courts that PFI leaders had encouraged Muslim youth to join the Islamic State, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and al-Qaeda; carried out propaganda operations; raised funds from the Gulf and made a hit-list of Indian leaders to assassinate.

While police custody for further interrogation was sought in some cases, the agencies sought judicial custody for the majority of the arrested individuals.

Condemning the arrests, a PFI spokesperson told ThePrint that the NIA’s claims were “baseless” and accused the agency of “creating an atmosphere of terror”.

“We condemn the nationwide raids by the NIA & ED and the unjust arrests and harassment of its [PFI’s] national and state leaders across India and the witch-hunting against the members and supporters of the organisation,” read a statement issued to the media by the outfit.

PFI members, the ED said in its remand application, which ThePrint has accessed, had been involved in “criminal conspiracy to raise funds for use in continuous unlawful activities”.

The ED claimed that through an investigation launched in 2018 under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, it was found that more than Rs 120 crore had been deposited in the accounts of PFI and related entities over the years.

The ED also alleged that one accused, K.A. Rauf Sherif, who is under arrest, transferred Rs 1.36 crore from abroad in the “guise of international trade of goods”.

“Their intention is raising and collecting funds through unknown and suspicious sources from within India and abroad. These funds are used for inciting violence like in the Delhi riots case, the visit to Hathras to create disharmony, and for plans to form a terrorist gang,” the ED claimed.

It further said that the PFI had been found to be involved in “collection of deadly weapons and explosives to launch attacks at sensitive places and organising training camps to cause disturbance during PM Modi’s Patna visit in July”.

The PFI, the ED alleged, also prepared, possessed and printed “incriminating literature posing a threat to the unity, integrity of India” and that in order to launder money, PFI members associated with overseas entities, “were developing a residential project Munnar Villa Vista Project” in Kerala.

“PFI has thousands of active members in gulf countries. These funds collected are remitted to India through hawala channels,” the ED claimed while asking the court to send Muhammed Shafeeque Payeth, arrested for allegedly collecting funds from Qatar and transferring such funds to India, to judicial custody.

While seeking custody of three of the accused arrested in Thursday’s raids — PFI Delhi president Perwez Ahmed, PFI Delhi general secretary Mohammad Ilyas, and PFI Delhi office secretary Abdul Muqeet — ED told a Delhi court that the men have been involved in “anti-national activities”.

While Perwez Ahmed, they said, “participated in anti-CAA protests across the country that finally culminated in the Delhi riots”, and collected funds and donations for PFI during Ramazan, Ilyas deposited the funds, collected as donations at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh office.

Muqeet, the ED claimed, collected money from namazees from different mosques and did not reveal the identity of the donors in the receipts. This money, said ED, is “tainted”.

Also read: ‘Chun Chun ke Marenge’, says Maharashtra BJP MLA Nitesh Rane to PFI protestors in Pune

‘Planned to target prominent leaders’

In the remand application submitted before the Special NIA court in Ernakulam, Kerala, the NIA said that during the investigation of a case registered on 16 September in Kochi, Kerala, against the PFI and 13 others, it was revealed that the men were “planning to target prominent leaders of a particular community” and that the PFI had created a “hit list”.

“During searches, incriminating documents, that showed their plan of targeting prominent leaders of a particular community and the hit list, were seized and 10 arrests were made in the case,” it said.

NIA further said that the PFI and its members encourage vulnerable youths to join terror organisations such as Al Qaeda, LeT, ISIS and have also conspired to establish Islamic rule in India by committing terrorist acts as part of violent Jihad.

The PFI, the application stated, spreads “disaffection against India by wrongful interpretation of government policies…to create hatred against the state and its machineries.”

“They used social media platforms for their secret communication for committing the offence,” NIA said.

In a joint overnight operation, carried out across 93 locations in 15 states with over 1,500 personnel of state police and the Central Armed Police Forces, 106 PFI members were arrested by the NIA, ED and state police forces Thursday.

Raids were carried out in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, Bihar and Manipur and “incriminating evidence”, including some sharp-edged weapons and documents were seized. No firearm, however, was recovered from the possession of those arrested.

(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)

Also read: What is PFI, how it’s ‘linked’ to banned terror outfit SIMI & why it’s on every agency’s hit list


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