NEW DELHI: In its fifth chargesheet this month against the Popular Front of India (PFI), the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed charges against 19 persons, including 12 National Executive Council (NEC) members, founding members and senior leaders of the banned outfit, an NIA statement said.
As per the official statement, PFI, as an organisation, has also been charge-sheeted in the case relating to criminal conspiracy aimed at destabilising and dis-membering the country.
"NIA's investigations in the case have also exposed a trail of funding by 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." 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 crackdown on these bank accounts took place across India, including Guwahati (Assam), Sundipur (West Bengal), Imphal (Manipur), Kozhikode (Kerala), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), New Delhi, Jaipur (Rajasthan), Bangalore (Karnataka), Hyderabad (Telangana) and Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh).
The case, under investigation since April 2022, had revealed that a criminal conspiracy was hatched by PFI, acting through the NEC, its members and persons associated with 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, along with Shariah/Islamic Law, the NIA statement added.
"PFI had devised a well-planned strategy to wage an armed struggle against the Government of India by radicalising and recruiting Muslim youth who had already pledged their allegiance to the PFI and its ideology and tactics through administration of oath of secrecy and loyalty (bayath). These highly radicalised men were being trained in the use of arms and weapons in various Arms Training Camps being conducted by PFI across the country with the intention of raising a well-trained PFI Army/militia. PFI had hatched plans for its Army/militia to wage a war to disintegrate and dismember the Indian Republic, as constituted by the Constitution of India, to establish an Islamic Caliphate," read the NIA statement.
"The PFI members/cadres chargesheeted today under various sections of IPC and UA(P)Act have been identified as OMA 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, Adv Mohd Yusuf, Mohammed Basheer, Shafeer K P, Jaseer K P, Shahid Nasir, Waseem Ahmed, Mohammed Shakif, Muhammed Farooq Ur Rahman and Yasar Arafat @ Yasir Hasan. They were arrested in September 2022 following searches by the NIA at 39 locations, including PFI offices, across the country," it added.
"NIA had registered this case suo motu based on credible inputs in the wake of the arrest of two youth by the Uttar Pradesh ATS in February 2021. The youth, identified as Anshad Badruddin, a PFI cadre, 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," it added.
"Besides arms and ammunition, the UP ATS seized from Anshad, a diary containing handwritten-text in Malayalam, an electronic detonator, an explosive device with battery and Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate (PETN). Firoz Khan's search also led to the seizure of explosives and wires," it said.
"It was subsequently found that the Malayalam text in the diary seized from Anshad, an active PFI trainer and operative since 2010, contained coded instructions / guidelines on carrying out rioting, arson, strategy for attacks during riots, working style of PFI, route to be followed by PFI's local area leaders, reconnaissance of local topography, how and where to cause bomb blasts, etc. The investigations further showed that the PFI leadership was financing him and other such people to carry out acts of terror and violence in different parts of the country," NIA statement pointed out.
"Anshad was reportedly tasked with the responsibility of PFI's cadre expansion and providing weapons training to PFI cadres. He had been travelling to different states for recruiting people into the PFI and imparting weapons training in the guise of Physical Education (PE) classes. Investigations revealed that Anshad, along with another PFI cadre Masud Ahmed, was planning to commit terrorist acts. Anshad was found to have received about Rs 4 lakhs from various PFI bank accounts for this purpose. Masud Ahmed, who was arrested in October 2020 by the UP Police, had also received money from the PFI".
"Among others who had similarly received funds from 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 (also chargesheeted in Hyderabad in December 2022) and Abdul Khader Puttur (arrested in Bengaluru in September 2022)".
"The arrest of Anshad and Masud had led to a trail of investigations, which eventually revealed the modus operandi of the PFI. The PFI, banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs in September 2022, 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 radicalizing and recruiting Muslim youth to join proscribed organizations like the ISIS," it added.
"NIA investigations have also exposed PFI's mechanism of collecting details of leaders of organisations aligned with a particular community and of those who didn't subscribe to their views, in order to commit murders through its Service Teams or Hit Squads and their trained cadres," it informed.
"The PFI's activities included empowerment of Muslims and marginalised sections of the society through campaigns and so-called social welfare schemes, in the guise of which the organisation was promoting its anti-India and violent agenda. Its cadres provided physical education training and weapons training, with those completing advanced training being inducted in its Hit Squads or 'Service Teams'. Radicalisation and recruitment of gullible Muslim youth was an integral part of the PFI strategy," the NIA statement said.
"NEC members of PFI were found to be involved in arranging for funding for organising Arms training camps, purchase of weapons and targeted killings. 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," it pointed out.
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