ED raids Kerala PFI offices, leaders’ houses over money-laundering charges

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday raided several offices and houses of the Popular Front of India (PFI) leaders in different locations across Kerala in connection with an ongoing investigation into money laundering charges, officials said.

People close to the central agency said they received a tip-off that a huge amount was transferred from west Asian countries to the PFI leaders, allegedly being used to foment trouble in the country. Officials said they got clinching evidence in this regard during the raids. But the organization has stoutly denied these charges.

“It is a cheap harassment tactic carried out by the central agency at the behest Sangh Parivar outfits. Our struggle will continue to uphold human and minority rights. The BJP and Parivar outfits are using central agencies to stifle dissent,” said PFI general secretary Anis Ahmed.

“The PFI has been co-operating well with all ED investigations, but nothing has been found so far. But it is still harassing our members with arbitrary raids. We condemn this,” said PFI chairman O M A Salam.

The PFI said raids were conducted at four locations, Kannur, Muvattupuzha, Malappuram and Idukki, officials in the know of the development said. At some locations, angry workers raised slogans against the ED officials but dispersed after local police intervened.

The central probe agency has been investigating the PFI’s alleged “financial links” on charges of fuelling the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests in the country, the Delhi riots that took place in February last year and a few other instances

The controversial outfit was in the news two weeks back in connection with the murder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader A Sanjith in Palakkad. Four workers of the Social Democratic Party of India, political wing of PFI, were arrested. He was waylaid and stabbed to death before his wife. Five are absconding.

The PFI was launched in Kerala in 2006 after merging three Muslim outfits, the National Development Front of Kerala, Karnataka Forum for Dignity and Manitha Neethi Pasari of Tamil Nadu, floated after the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, and now claims to have units in 22 states. The party’s early leaders were ex-cadres of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

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