Popular Front of India’s student wing Campus Front of India (CFI) leader KA Rauf Sharif was arrested by Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday from Thiruvananthapuram when he was trying to flee from the country.
As per the ED report, Rauf Sharif had funded the trip by PFI members and self-proclaimed journalist Siddique Kappan to Hathras, Uttar Pradesh after the controversy over the case. A lot of political parties and organisations had gathered in Hathras, trying to stoke unrest and stir up caste violence. The investigation agencies alleged that the PFI members and Kappan intended to disturb social harmony and incite caste violence in the region.
Pretend-journalist Kappan was arrested by the UP Police along with other individuals named Ateequr Rahman and Masood Ahmed on October 4 when they were traveling to Hathras. The ED report submitted before the Principal Sessions Court, Kochi, suggests that the Sharif gave directions and arranged funds for the trip. He had transferred the money to Rahman’s account. Sharif had allegedly received Rs.2.5 crore of foreign funds in his accounts during Covid-19 lockdown, as per the report. Sharif, who works in Oman, was in India at that time, which raised suspicion over the transactions. ED had called him for questioning, but he deliberately did not appear.
Funds received by Sharif
As per reports, Sharif has saving accounts in ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, and Federal Bank. In his ICICI Bank account, he had received Rs.1.35 crore during 2018-2020. He had received foreign funds from Ramiz Ali Prabath and Naufal Shreef totalling Rs.29,18,511 during April-June 2020. The purpose of the funds was mentioned as ‘Payments to hotels by nationals of all FATF-compliant countries or NRIs for their stay.’ During that period, the hotels were not operating due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
The report said, “This purpose looks suspicious as it implies that Rauf Sharif either owns a hotel in India or Oman for which payments were made by Naufal and Ramiz though hotels were not operational during the April-June period this year due to Covid-19. Additionally, there are major high-value expenses by Rauf Sharif for land and vehicle purchases.” It added that transactions worth 67 lakh in his Federal Bank account took place during 2019-2020. He received foreign funds worth 19.7 lakh from Doha in May and October this year. A cash deposit of 16 lakh was also made in his account. ED report also recorded a transaction of 20 lakh in his Axis Bank account.
PMLA case investigation against PFI
In 2018, the ED started an investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act based on a case related to a terrorist camp by PFI and SDPI members at Narath in Kannur. Sharif’s name had come up during the investigation. His name was also mentioned in the FIR registered by the UP Police in the Hathras case. Sharif had known Kappan for the last one year as Kappan has covered several PFI and CFI events.
UP Police had recovered laptops, mobile phones and suspicious literature from Kappan and three PFI members in October. ED Report said that Sharif did not provide any explanation for the foreign funds he had received, and he refused to cooperate in the investigation.
Rauf Sharif’s arrest
Rauf Sharif, leader of the radical Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials on Saturday from Tiruvanathapuram airport when he was attempting to escape from the country. The immigration officials at Thiruvananthapuram Airport identified him and caught him at the airport. They immediately informed UP Police and ED, after which ED officials reached the airport and took Sharif in custody.
Following the arrest, Sharif has been sent to 14-days judicial remand.