NIA, ED nab 19 PFI leaders over terror funding, recruitment
National chairman and general secretary among arrested in joint raids on houses and offices in nine districts, SDPI says RSS agenda being implemented by Centre
T’PURAM/KOCHI: As part of a nation-wide crackdown on the Popular Front of India (PFI) for alleged terror funding and terrorist activities, National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a joint operation on Thursday arrested 19 leaders of the outfit from Kerala, including its national chairman O M A Salam and national general secretary V P Nasarudeen Elamaram.
As per an official NIA statement, the arrests were in connection with five cases registered by NIA against PFI for alleged terror funding and recruitment of youth for terrorist activities. In the surprise combined operation that began in the early hours of Thursday, special teams of the two agencies carried out simultaneous raids on the offices and residences of PFI leaders in Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Ernakulam, Kollam, Palakkad, Pathanamthitta, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram.
The crackdown comes after the NIA on September 18 raided 38 locations in Telangana and two locations in Andhra Pradesh in a case relating to PFI leaders organising camps for imparting training to commit terrorist acts and promoting enmity between different groups on the basis of religion.
As per an official release, incriminating materials including digital devices, documents and Rs 8.31 lakh in cash were seized during the raids in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The ED had earlier frozen a few bank accounts of the PFI and a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was registered.
The ED had been tracking the fund flow of the PFI for quite some time and had found details of a company floated by PFI leaders in Kerala for allegedly laundering money collected from abroad and to fund radical activities of the organisation.
As per the ED probe, a few senior PFI leaders in Kerala had allegedly floated the company associating with a few overseas firms for laundering money collected from foreign countries. Official sources said the NIA was tracking the overseas travels of the PFI functionaries from Kerala, mainly to the Middle East, for the last few years. Inputs on fund-raising by PFI were received after the arrest of PFI leader Anshad Badharudeen by the UP Police’s anti-terrorism squad last year. The ED also tracked the details of a PFI leader from Malappuram identified as Abdul Razak B P, who allegedly coordinated PFI’s fund-raising in Gulf countries.
Meanwhile, PFI state secretary A Abdul Sathar in a statement said the raids were an act of state-sponsored terrorism. “The raids were carried out at the residences of national, state and local leaders. The state head office was also raided. Strong protests should come up against the fascist government’s act of using its agencies to stifle dissenting voices,” the statement said. The outfit has called for a state-wide hartal on Friday.
The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), which is considered a political arm of the PFI, strongly reacted to the raids and arrests. Party state president Muvattupuzha Ashraf Moulavi said the proponents of fascist ideology are using central agencies and the Central government to implement their agendas. “If the central agencies do not stop subjugating themselves before the RSS, the country will head towards a dangerous situation,” he said.