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Vadodara: FCRA license of NGO AFMI Charitable Trust cancelled for illegal mass conversion, funding anti-CAA protests using foreign funds

SIT had found that the NGO siphoned off close to 19 crores of the foreign funds received mainly from Al-Falah Trust of the UK along with some other benefactors.

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) revoked the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) license of the Vadodara-based American Federation of Muslims Of Indian Origin (AFMI) in December 2021. The action was taken by MHA based on a report sent by the Vadodara Police in which it was alleged that the NGO had been siphoning off foreign funds for “illegal Islamic activities”. It was first reported in July 2021 that AFMI had allegedly used the foreign funds received mainly from the United Kingdom for mass conversion practices.

The Vadodara Police has also begun the process of issuing a red corner notice against two of the alleged benefactors of the NGO named Abdullah Fefdawala and Mustafa Thanawala. These two had sent hawala funds to Salahuddin Sheikh, the managing trustee of the NGO, between 2016 and 2021.

In July 2021, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Vadodara Police initiated a probe against the NGO for alleged misuse of foreign funds that came to light following a case of illegal conversions against Sheikh booked by Anti-Terrorist Squad of Uttar Pradesh Police. During the investigation, SIT found that the NGO siphoned off close to 19 crores of the foreign funds received mainly from Al-Falah Trust of the UK along with some other benefactors.

During the investigation, SIT summoned Fefdawala of Al-Falah Trust. He was co-accused in the case of hawala transactions of about Rs 60 crore routed via Dubai. Another accused Thanawala from Dubai was also summoned. Neither of them responded to the summons, after which the Police initiated the process of issuing a red corner notice.

DS Chauhan, Assistant Vadodara city Commissioner of Police, Crime, was quoted by the Indian Express saying that the Police had submitted the report in the case related to the misuse of foreign funds to the Central Government. He said, “We have informed the MHA as well as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) about the investigation findings into the misuse of the foreign funds that were meant for the specific purpose of the trust. However, the money was routed to fund various Islamic activities, including illegal religious conversions, construction of mosques, funding individuals for various activities in Kashmir and the areas of the Indo-Nepal border… The IB also must have submitted a second report to the MHA, as is the process, which could have led to the cancellation of their FCRA Registration.”

He further added, “The two accused did not respond to the summons. They have also disabled their email addresses and phone numbers… Our investigation has revealed that Sheikh also facilitated money to two persons in Bharuch district to execute illegal religious conversions to Islam.”

On November 24, SIT filed a 1,860-page charge sheet in the case. They named Fefdawala and Thanawala as two wanted accused in the case and mentioned numerous activities of AFMI Trust where the NGO misused the funds received under FCRA. The charge sheet said AFMI Trust, in collusion with IH Kasuwala Firm, siphoned Rs 1.65 crore using fake invoices. It added, “AFMI Trust knowingly presented accounts of expenditure of Rs 94.65 lakh (of the Rs 1.65 crore) to the government agencies.”

Involvement in Delhi Riots of 2020

The NGO has also been accused of providing funds to support the Delhi Riots of 2020 and CAA protests along with other criminal activities aimed at strengthening Islam. The Police alleged the NGO was involved in illegal conversions of people of the Hindu community to Islam.

The Uttar Pradesh mass conversion racket

The Uttar Pradesh police filed a case in June 2020 against Umar Gautam of Dawah Centre. Gautam was accused of the illegal conversion of a Hindu girl. During the investigation, it was revealed that Umar Gautam, who himself was a convert, ran a racket to convert Hindus to Islam. He lured poor and marginalized people in the Hindu community and did not even spare hearing and speech impaired students of an institute in Noida.

The Bharuch mass conversion case

On November 15 2021, a case was registered at Amod Police Station Part A under Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act under sections 4, 5, 4-G along with Indian Penal Code section 120 (B), 153 (B) (C), 506(2), 153A (1), 295 (K), 466, 467, 468, 471, Atrocities Act section 3 (2) (5-a), 3 (2)(5) and Information Technology Act, 2000 section 84-C against nine accused. The nine accused were: Shabbir Bakerywala (Amod), Samaj Bakerywala (Amod), Abdul Aziz Patel (Kankaria, Amod), Yusuf Patel (Kankaria, Amod), Ayub Barkat Patel (Kankaria, Amod), Hasan Tisli (Achhod, Amod), Fefdawala Haji Abdullah (Nabipur, currently, London, UK), Ismail Achhodwala alias Delawala (maulvi) (Achhod, Amod) and Ibrahim Patel (Kankaria, Amod).

As per the FIR filed, the accused had promised jobs and money to Hindu Vasava tribal families in the area and got them to convert to Islam in 2018. The complainant has accused them of a nationwide racket of religious conversion and alleged that they were given death threats if they complained against the religious conversion. The accused had threatened that they are well connected from Kashmir to Pakistan, the FIR states.

In December 2020, Bharuch Police issued an arrest warrant against Abdulsamad Mohammad alias Dawood Suleiman Patel (Bakerywala), Shabbir Mohammad Patel (Bakerywala), Hasan Isha Patel (Hasan Titli), Ismail Yakub alias Ismail Achhodwala (maulvi), all residents of Amod as well as Abdullah Aadam Fefdawala from Nabipur, Bharuch, who is currently residing in London, UK.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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