On June 22, Patiala House Court remanded Shahul Hameed, a member of the banned terror outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), in connection to the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) probe into a money laundering case concerning the terror outfit. The ED arrested Shahul Hameed from Madurai.
The vacation judge Chhavi Kapoor remanded Shahul Hameed to judicial custody till July 6, 2023. The accused was produced before the court after the expiry of three days of ED custody. Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Naveen Kumar Matta for ED appeared for ED and submitted that an investigation is going on, accused may be remanded to judicial custody.
The fact of the case revolves around receiving higher money in violation of the law. It is alleged by the ED that the accused Shahul Hameed was operating from Singapore and was involved in the unlawful activities of the organisation. While seeking an extension of remand on June 19, it was also submitted that the mobile phone of the accused contains relevant details which need to be confronted during the investigation.
According to the ED, the accused was earlier in the process of collecting illegal money/terror funds from legitimate and illegitimate channels from Singapore and other places. He stated to have been deported to India. Upon receipt of inputs, he was intercepted and could not give an account of certain activities taken by him towards collecting funds for PFI.
ED counsels had informed the court that the statement of the accused under section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was also recorded wherein he remained evasive in giving answers to certain material aspects collected during the investigation. Therefore, ED arrested the accused.
Earlier the accused was remanded to ten days in ED remand which was extended on Sunday for one day. Again the accused was produced before the court on Monday. Recently, the Special Court took cognizance of a chargesheet (Prosecution Complaint) filed by the ED against several office bearers of the PFI in a special court in Delhi. The court had noted that funds were used for the purpose of unlawful activities, inciting violence, which was allegedly held in North East Delhi in Feb 2020.
According to the ED, the accused persons have revealed that they have played an active role in bogus cash donations on behalf of PFI and in claiming and projecting PFI’s unaccounted cash raised through unknown and suspicious sources as untainted and legitimate.
ED had stated that the PMLA investigation has revealed that as a part of a criminal conspiracy hatched by PFI office bearers over the past many years, suspicious funds from within the country and abroad have been raised by PFI and related entities and have been clandestinely remitted to India in a concealed manner and deposited in their bank accounts over the years.
Government of India Bans PFI
In September 2022, the Ministry of Home Affairs declared the PFI and its affiliates as an ‘Unlawful Association’. The press statement issued in this regard stated that the PFI and its associates or affiliates/fronts had been found to be involved in serious offences, including terrorism and its financing, targeted gruesome killings, disregarding the constitutional set-up of the country, disturbing public order etc. which are prejudicial to the integrity, security and sovereignty of the country.
Therefore, the Ministry of Home Affairs found it necessary to curb the nefarious activities of the organization and has hence declared the PFI along with its associates or affiliates or fronts including Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala as an ‘unlawful association’ under the provisions of the UAPA.
Earlier in March, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) Tribunal upheld the decision of the Government of India’s decision to ban PFI and its affiliates.
The Tribunal has dismissed the allegations levelled by the organisation that one particular community is being targeted by the government. The Tribunal while passing the Judgement noted that the members of PFI and its affiliates are indulging in secessionist activities which were contrary to the social fabric of the country.