The Enforcement Directorate has quashed media-generated rumours that claimed that the central agency had said that there was no link between the radical Islamist organisation PFI and the Bhim Army. Citing a News18 report on the same, the ED said, “This news is incorrect. In fact ED is investigating financial links between PFI and Bhim Army on the basis of credible evidence recovered from senior PFI officials.”
The report by News18, which has since then been deleted, claimed, “he Enforcement Directorate (ED) said Friday it found no links between Chandrashekhar Azaad-led Bhim Army and the Popular Front of India (PFI). The agency also rubbished claims that Rs 100 crore of alleged foreign funding to incite violence through the Hathras case had been recovered.”
News18 was not the only news network that made these frivolous claims. India Today, too, claimed that the ED had found no links between the PFI and Bhim Army. India Today claimed in its October 9 report, “Enforcement Directorate (ED) has clarified that they have found no links between Chandrashekhar Azad-led Bhim Army and PFI, which has been accused of inciting tension during the anti-CAA protests.”
“ED has also said that the talks of Rs 100 crore being recovered is untrue. The ED clarification comes after former UP DGP Brij Lal claimed that the Bhim Army and other outfits were trying to mislead the family of the Hathras alleged rape victim,” it added.
The Wire, too, was at the forefront of peddling the blatantly fake news. Along the lines of what India Today and News18 reported, The Wire claimed that ED had quashed speculations of links between the PFI and Bhim Army.
The concerned reports that have been debunked by the ED are from early October. Only News18 has pulled its report down as of the time of writing this report. It is another instance where the mainstream media peddled fake news on an extremely sensitive subject with extreme abandon. The ED rebuttal was late but better late than never.
On 14th September, a 19-year-old woman was strangulated, and later she succumbed to injuries on 29th September. The Hathras case had become the ground for political drama and media propaganda. Congress leaders Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad, TMC leader Derek O’Brien, and several others had visited Hathras to meet the family.
Reports have emerged that alleged PFI and Naxal connection to the case to instigate caste violence in the state. Investigation agencies found that a woman was posing as the sister-in-law of the victim and living with the family allegedly to train them what to say in front of the cameras. The state has requested for Supreme Court-monitored CBI inquiry in the case. The CBI eventually took over the investigation into the matter.