PFI-Bhim Army links: ED questioning likely in Nov-Dec

RAJNISH SINGH   |  New Delhi


The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is learnt to have come up with strong evidence of Illegal financial transaction between the Popular Front of India (PFI) and Bhim Army whose joint role behind anti-CAA protests in Delhi as well as Uttar Pradesh has come under radar.

As part of the probe, the agency is likely to question various suspects of the two groups by the end of this month or in the first two weeks of December.

Mobile conversations, WhatsApp chats, mobile locations of suspects and intermittent bank transactions via different sources are among the credible evidence based on which the ED is planning to go ahead with its future move against the PFI-Bhim Army in its money laundering probe, official sources privy to the anti-CAA investigation told IANS requesting anonymity.

The ED has gathered information and evidence following recovery of various inputs and documentary evidence from senior PFI officials who have so far been questioned by the agency, said the source.

As per information, the agency is in an advanced stage of procuring evidence to question key PFI handlers and Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and many other suspected coordinators of the group.

"If things go as per plan, many PFI members and Bhim Army suspects will be summoned within one week to be present before the investigators by the end of this month or in the first two weeks of December," said another source.

The inputs came a day after the financial probe agency declared that it is "investigating financial links between PFI and Bhim Army on the basis of credible evidence recovered from senior PFI officials" putting aside rumours that the groups had not links in anti-Citizenship Act (CAA) protests that were carried out across India especially in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh leaving many dead, various injured and loss of crores of public property during the more than one-month long riots and arson.

Communication analysed between individuals of the two groups, some other officials said, indicated talk about certain activities in Delhi's Jama Masjid area during the anti-CAA protest.

The ED, in August this year, had arrested former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor, Tahir Hussain, in connection with the case for his alleged role in money laundering and funding of anti-CAA protests and organising riots in north-east Delhi in February.

During its investigation in the case based on various First Information Reports (FIRs), the ED got inputs about huge dubious financial transactions linking PFI-- an extremist and militant Islamic fundamentalist organization formed as a successor to National Development Front (NDF) in 2006.

The agency, which is investigating the PFI under the PMLA since 2018, has alleged "financial links" between these protests and the Kerala-based organization, PFI. Earlier, the anti-terrorist Central investigation agency, National Investigation Agency (NIA), has also accused the PFI of having its footprint in Uttar Pradesh.

The ED had questioned several PFI office bearers in the past and the result of the quizzing gave various leads to the agency in putting doubts over Bhim Army-- an Ambedkarite and dalit rights organisation that was founded by Satish Kumar, Vijay Ratan Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad in 2015.

The ED is probing transaction of a particular Rs 1.04 crore which was made to several bank accounts linked to the PFI in which it has also found the role of Bhim Army. The financial transaction was made between December 4 last year and January 6 this year in various parts of the country.

However, an amount of Rs 120 crore, credited to bank accounts linked to the PFI, is also under the ED's scanner.

The PFI as well as the Bhim Army, however, had denied these charges against themselves, and even their links.

"The Popular Front of India has stated it multiple times that we fully comply with the law of the land and the allegation of Rs 120 crore transferred from the Popular Front's accounts just before the CAA protests is totally baseless and the people who are levelling these allegations should prove these claims," the organization had said in a statement.

The sources claimed that these dubious deposits were either made in cash or through the immediate payment service (IMPS) and a number of such instances were seen in Uttar Pradesh, where the maximum number of violent anti-CAA protests were reported to have taken place.

Quoting the ED findings, the sources said, the withdrawal of money from the bank accounts linked to PFI and its related entities had a "direct correlation" with the violent demonstrations against the CAA.

It is suspected and alleged that these funds were used by PFI affiliates to fuel the anti-CAA protests in various parts of Uttar Pradesh and other locations, the sources had said.

The ED had also sent a report in this connection to the Union Home Ministry which in turn has directed it to solve the case as soon as possible and book the people concerned under Prevention of Money Laundering Act. - IANS

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