The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed the fifth chargesheet against the now-banned Popular Front of India (PFI) and 19 activists, including 12 members of its national executive committee (NEC). The agency has also frozen 77 bank accounts linked to the outfit and the accused persons.
The agency has unearthed a trail of funding by the PFI allegedly for its terror operatives and weapons trainers, both in cash and via regular bank transfers, in the guise of salary payments. “In the five chargesheets, 105 accused persons have been named so far,” said an official.
“All these PFI trainers have been arrested in cases registered either by the NIA or different State police forces... the crackdown on bank accounts took place across India, including Guwahati, Sundipur [West Bengal], Imphal, Kozhikode, Chennai, New Delhi, Jaipur, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kurnool [Andhra Pradesh],” the official said.
Among those arraigned are O.M.A. Salam, E.M. Abdul Rahiman, Anis Ahmed, Afsar Pasha, V.P. Nazaruddin, E. Abubacker, Prof. P. Koya, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Abdul Wahid Sait, A.S. Ismail, Md. Yusuf, Basheer, Shafeer K.P., Jaseer K.P., Shahid Nasir, Waseem Ahmed, Shakif, Farooq Ur Rahman and Yasar Arafat.
The NIA alleges that there was a criminal conspiracy to divide the country on communal lines, with the ultimate objective of overthrowing “the existing system of secular and democratic governance in India” and replacing “it with an Islamic Caliphate, along with Shariah/Islamic law”. Young men were being radicalised and trained in the use of arms and weapons, it adds.
The NIA had registered the case suo motu based on inputs after the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested PFI cadres Anshad Badruddin and Firoz Khan in February 2021 for allegedly planning to trigger blasts on the occasion of Basant Panchami. Besides explosives, arms and ammunition, the squad had allegedly seized from Mr. Badruddin a handwritten diary.
The text contained coded instructions “on carrying out rioting, arson, strategy for attacks during riots, working style of the PFI, route to be followed by the PFI’s local area leaders, reconnaissance of local topography, how and where to cause bomb blasts, etc”. Further probe revealed that the PFI leadership was financing Mr. Badruddin and others. His task was to expand the outfit’s cadre base and provide weapon training to the recruits, for which he travelled to different States.
“Mr. Anshad, along with another PFI cadre Masud Ahmed, was planning to commit terrorist acts. He received about ₹4 lakh from various PFI bank accounts for the purpose. Mr. Masud, who was arrested in October 2020 by the U.P. Police, too had received money from the PFI,” said an NIA official.
An absconder, Mohammed Abdul Ahad (chargesheeted in Hyderabad last December 2022), his co-accused Irfan, and another person, Abdul Khader Puttur (arrested in Bengaluru in September 2022), had also got funds from the outfit, it is alleged.