In its fifth chargesheet this month against the Popular Front of India (PFI), the NIA filed charges against 19 people, including 12 National Executive Council (NEC) members of the banned outfit, for their alleged involvement in a conspiracy to wage a war for establishing an Islamic Caliphate in the country, an official said.
With the filing of chargesheet in the Delhi case on March 19, the total number of accused chargesheeted in PFI cases across the country by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) now stands at 105, a spokesperson of the federal agency said.
The PFI was formed in 2006 with the merger of National Development front (NDF) of Kerala and Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD) with Oma Salam becoming its Chairman, E. M. Abdul Rahiman Vice-chairman, V. P. Nazaruddin National Secretary, Anees Ahmed the national general secretary of the NEC, the top decision-making body in the outfit.
The 19 accused chargesheeted under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act included Salam, Rahiman, Nazaruddin, Ahmed, Afsar Pasha, E Abubacker, Prof P Koya, and Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the spokesperson said.
Abdul Wahid Sait, A S Ismail, Mohd Yusuf, Mohammed Basheer, Shafeer K P, Jaseer K P, Shahid Nasir, Waseem Ahmed, Mohammed Shakif, Muhammed Farooq Ur Rahman, and Yasar Arafat alias "Yasir Hasan" were some other key position holders in the NEC named in the chargesheet, the official said.
They were arrested in September last year following a nationwide crackdown at 39 locations, including PFI offices, across the country after the group was banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
"The case, under investigation since April 2022, had revealed that a criminal conspiracy was hatched by the PFI to divide the country on communal lines. It has also come to light that the ultimate objective of the conspiracy was to overthrow the existing system of secular and democratic governance in India and replace it with an Islamic Caliphate," the spokesperson said.
The NIA said its investigations have also exposed a trail of funding by the PFI to its terror operatives and weapons trainers across the country, both in cash and through regular bank transfers, in the guise of payment of salaries.
"All these PFI trainers have been arrested in cases registered either by the NIA or by different state police forces. The NIA has also frozen 37 bank accounts of the PFI organisation as well as 40 bank accounts belonging to 19 individuals associated with the PFI, virtually squeezing the organisation's funding activities," the spokesperson said.
The official said the crackdown on these bank accounts took place across the country including Guwahati (Assam), Sundipur (West Bengal), Imphal (Manipur), Kozhikode (Kerala), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), New Delhi, Jaipur (Rajasthan), Bengaluru (Karnataka), Hyderabad (Telangana), and Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh).
"Investigations have revealed that the PFI, acting under the cover of building a mass organisation and a socio-political movement, was actually putting together a highly motivated, trained and secretive elite force within the larger organisation to achieve its pernicious and violent long-term objectives of establishment of Islamic rule by 2047," the spokesperson said.
The agency said PFI had devised a well-planned strategy to wage an armed struggle by radicalising and recruiting Muslim youth who had already pledged their allegiance to the outfit and its ideology and tactics through administration of oath of secrecy and loyalty.
"These highly radicalised men were being trained in the use of arms and weapons in various Arms Training camps being conducted by the PFI across the country with the intention of raising a well-trained PFI Army/militia," the spokesperson said.
"Recovery of the vision document of the PFI, seized in various cases of NIA, clearly proves the conspiracy of the central leadership in recruitment, weapons training, and keeping the cadre ready for an armed rebellion in the future to establish an Islamic Caliphate by the year 2047," the spokesperson said.
The NIA said the investigations have also exposed PFI's mechanism of collecting details of leaders of organisations aligned with a particular community and of those who did not subscribe to their views, in order to commit murders through its service teams or hit squads.
"Since the outfit was formed in 2006, PFI cadres have been involved in a series of murders and violent attacks in the country, including those of leaders of organisations who are at variance with the PFI on religious ideas and beliefs," the agency said.
The spokesperson said the investigations also revealed that the PFI was raising or collecting funds from within India and abroad for unleashing violent and terrorist acts in various parts of India, including the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi.
"The PFI office bearers, leaders, cadres and members were also involved in radicalising and recruiting Muslim youth to join proscribed terror organizations like the Islamic State," the official said.
The NIA had registered the case suo-motu based on credible inputs in the wake of the arrest of two youths by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) in February 2021.
Anshad Badruddin and Firoz Khan were nabbed while planning to cause bomb blasts on the occasion of Basant Panchami with the aim of striking terror among the people of a particular religious community and the public at large, the spokesperson said.
Besides arms and ammunition, the UP ATS seized from Badruddin, an active PFI trainer and operative since 2010, a diary containing handwritten-text in Malayalam which contained coded instructions and guidelines on carrying out rioting, strategy for attacks during riots, route to be followed by PFI's local area leaders, reconnaissance and how and where to cause bomb blasts.
Financed by PFI leadership, Badruddin had been travelling to different states for recruiting people into the PFI and imparting weapons training in the guise of Physical Education classes, the official said.
"Investigations revealed that Badruddin, along with another PFI cadre Masud Ahmed, was planning to commit terrorist acts. He was found to have received about ₹4 lakh from various PFI bank accounts for this purpose. Ahmed, who was arrested in October 2020 by the UP Police, had also received money from the PFI," the spokesperson said.
Among others who had similarly received funds from the PFI for terrorist activities in the country were Mohammed Abdul Ahad, who was charge-sheeted in Hyderabad in December 2022 and is still absconding, Mohammed Irfan, chargesheeted in Hyderabad in December 2022, and Abdul Khader Puttur, arrested in Bengaluru in September 2022.