ED summons PFI, linked NGO officials in PMLA case

ED summons PFI, linked NGO officials in PMLA case

The Popular Front of India was booked by the ED under the PMLA in 2018. Credit: Facebook (tarunpaleo)

The ED has summoned seven office-bearers of the PFI and an NGO linked to it in connection with a money-laundering probe against them, officials said on Tuesday.

They said the office-bearers of the Kerala-based Popular Front of India (PFI) and those from the Rehab India Foundation were asked to depose before the investigating officer of the case here on Wednesday.

While the PFI issued a statement in this regard late in the evening, there was no response from the Rehab India Foundation to the queries sought by PTI.

"We believe that the notices issued by the ED at New Delhi today, naming the office-bearers of Popular Front of India and requiring them to appear for giving evidence as part of their investigation, is an ill-motivated move at the behest of the RSS-controlled BJP government.

"It is only the latest in the series of ongoing attempts to suppress our organisation," PFI general secretary M Mohammed Ali Jinnah said in the statement.

"We are sure that all sensible and honest citizens and groups in India will see it only as political vendetta because of our consistent stand and resolute fights against the evil designs of RSS and BJP," the statement added.

It said the PFI would go for "democratic and legal options" in this context.

The summonses were issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), sources said.

The development comes in the backdrop of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) finding that the recent violent protests in Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) had an alleged "financial link" with the PFI and the organisation terming it as "baseless".

"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 organisation had said in a statement issued on Monday.

The PFI was booked by the ED under the PMLA in 2018.

The agency was also probing remittances and withdrawal of funds from nine bank accounts of Rehab India, officials said, apart from a deposit of Rs 20 lakh from Dubai in its accounts.

On its website, Rehab India said it was launched in 2018 and its aim was to "rehabilitate the marginalised section of rural India with a better standard of living by channelling the building rocks of a just society i.e Education, Health, Economic Development and Environment".

Official sources had said on Monday that the federal probe agency had found that at least Rs 1.04 crore were deposited in several bank accounts linked to the PFI between December 4 last year and January 6 in various parts of the country.

This was the time when Parliament passed the law to grant citizenship to non-Muslims who were persecuted on religious grounds in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The sources said a total amount of Rs 120 crore, credited at varied times into the bank accounts linked to the PFI and few others, including Rehab India, were under the ED's scanner.

A National Investigation Agency FIR and chargesheet against the PFI formed the basis for the ED to file the PMLA case.

The agency is probing the PFI's alleged role with respect to suspected terror-funding and possible creation of assets by using "tainted" funds.

The PFI was formed in 2006 in Kerala as a successor to the National Democratic Front (NDF).