KOCHI: Campus Front of India (CFI) leader K A Rauf Sherif, arrested by Enforcement Directorate (ED) from Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday, funded the trip by Popular Front of India activists along with journalist Siddique Kappan to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, where a shocking rape and murder had happened, with the intention to disturb social harmony and incite communal riots, according to investigators.
Rauf Sherif, a native of Anchal in Kollam, is the current national general secretary of Campus Front, the student’s wing of Popular Front of India. Malappuram native and journalist Kappan was held by the UP Police along with CFI national treasurer Ateequr Rahman and Masood Ahmed — both students of Jamia Millia Islamia University and UP natives — on their way to Hathras on October 4. They undertook the trip as per the directions of Rauf Sherif, said a report submitted by ED before the Principal Sessions Court, Kochi.
The trip was funded by Rauf Sherif, who transferred money for this to the bank account of Ateequr Rahman, it said. Rauf Sherif had received Rs 2.5 crore of foreign remittances in his accounts during Covid-19 lockdown period. He was not in Oman, where he was working, at that time but was in India. The nature and purpose of these transactions are suspicious, according to ED. He deliberately avoided appearing before ED with an attempt to thwart the investigation which would unravel his role in money laundering.
According to the investigators, Rauf was planning to flee the country in the early hours of Saturday, but was apprehended by Bureau of Immigration officials at Trivandrum airport. The court remanded him to judicial custody on Sunday.
As per the ED documents, Rauf Sherif maintains a savings bank account each in ICICI Bank, Federal Bank and Axis Bank. It has revealed that in his ICICI Bank account, there were transactions of Rs 1.35 crore during 2018-2020. These included foreign remittances of Rs 29,18,511 during April-June 2020 from Naufal Shareef and Ramiz Ali Prabath.
The purpose of remittances was mentioned in the bank records as ‘Payments to hotels by nationals of all FATF-compliant countries or NRIs for their stay’. “This purpose looks suspicious as it implies that Rauf Sheriff either owns a hotel in India or Oman for which payments were made by Naufal and Ramiz though hotels were not operational during the April-June period this year due to Covid-19. Additionally, there are major high-value expenses by Rauf Sherif for land and vehicle purchases,” said the report.
The report also cited that there were transactions to the tune of Rs 67 lakh in his Federal Bank account during 2019-2020. There was an outward foreign remittance of Rs 19.7 lakh to Doha in May and October 2020 and a cash deposit of Rs 16 lakh. A transaction of Rs 20 lakh was done via Axis Bank this year.
The ED took up the investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in 2018 based on the case related to the organising of a terrorist camp at Narath in Kannur by PFI and SDPI activists. During the investigation, the agency found the role of Rauf Sherif and a mention about him in the FIR registered by UP Police in the Hathras case. Kappan, who is currently lodged in jail, is a journalist and covered events organised by CFI and PFI, and Rauf Sherif has known him for the past one year.
As per the FIR of UP Police, mobile phones, laptops and suspicious literature having potential to disturb social harmony and to incite communal riots were recovered from Kappan and three others, including Ateequr Rahman and Mahmood Ahmad. According to the officials, Rauf Sherif has not divulged any details of foreign remittances or about his role in the visit of CFI members to Hathras and did not cooperate with the investigation.
What ED report says...
- Rauf transferred money for the trip to Hathras to the bank account of Ateequr Rahman, CFI national treasurer and a student of Jamia Millia Islamia University
- Rauf had received J2.5 crore of foreign remittances in his bank accounts during Covid-19 lockdown period. He was not in Oman, where he was working, at that time but was in India.
- He deliberately avoided appearing before ED with an attempt to thwart the investigation which would unravel his role in money laundering