ED inspects premises of Popular Front of India leaders in Kerala

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday conducted almost simultaneous searches at the premises of at least three top leaders of the Popular Front of India (PFI) in Kerala.

Officials said an ED team from New Delhi had carried out the surprise inspections at the residences of PFI national chairman M.M. Salam and national secretary Nasarudeen Elamaram in Malappuram.

In Thiruvananthapuram, ED officials searched the house of PFI leader Ashraf Maulavi in Karamana. The ED was tight-lipped about the outcome of the inspections. Armed paramilitary personnel escorted the raiding parties.

Officials here indicated that the inspections in Kerala were part of a nation-wide operation that targeted “suspicious” PFI fund flow. The ED also reportedly inspected the houses of PFI leaders in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Also read | ED carries out nationwide searches on Popular Front of India-linked locations

The ED in New Delhi was investigating at least two anti-money laundering cases against the PFI. The agency was probing whether the PFI’s alleged acceptance of funds from foreign entities over the years violated the Foreign Exchange Management Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act regulations, officials here said.

A more immediate case related to the charge that the PFI used laundered money to plan, fund and orchestrate the recent riots in New Delhi.

Dawn raids

Mr. Elamaram told The Hindu that ED officials had knocked on the door of his house at dawn. He was not home at the time. His brother told him the officials confiscated a laptop computer, some pen drives and few books from his library.

“They (ED officials) behaved courteously,” he said. At the time of the raid, only his family was at home. The inspection lasted for a few hours.

‘Politically motivated’

The PFI leader said the current raids were “politically motivated”. The Central government was desperate to draw public attention away from the ongoing farmers’ protest. The ED was its “political tool,” he alleged.

The Centre faced a groundswell of opposition for its patently anti-minority Citizenship (Amendment) Act and allied laws and proposed population registry. The PFI was at the forefront of the nation-wide agitation.

PFI denies foreign funding

Mr. Elamaram said the PFI’s constitution prohibited the organisation from accepting foreign funds. Voluntary donations from members financed its political and charitable activities. No PFI leader had amassed illegitimate wealth.

Mr. Elamaram charged that successive governments, had without “a shred of evidence”, attempted to cast the PFI and its predecessor, the National Democratic Front, in “an unflattering light”. They had tried to portray the PFI as an extremist outfit with links to terrorist outfits. However, the PFI was impervious to such “malicious propaganda” and operated within the bounds of the Constitution.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 5:16:06 PM |

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