Searches were conducted at 26 locations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi
NEW DELHI — The Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted raids at the homes of activists of the Popular Front of India (PFI) across the country as part of the probe into an alleged case of money laundering.
The sleuths of the agency searched the homes of PFI chairman O.M.A. Salam and Kerala state president Nasarudheen Elamarom purportedly to find the source of funding of the organisation.
Reports said that searches were conducted at 26 locations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi.
PFI has been accused of funding and instigating anti-CAA protests and the subesequent riots in Delhi earlier this year.
However, the organisation denounced the raids terming them as “politically motivated” which, it said, were conducted to “divert national attention” as the government was under pressure due to farmers’ massive protests.
“Such raids usually happen in our country whenever the government in power comes under the pressure of popular anger and so it wants to divert public attention from it,” said Muhammed Shakif, PFI National Secretary.
He added that raids were part of the ongoing witch-hunt against activists and groups who were at the forefront of the anti-CAA movement. “The authorities intend to prevent the organisation from its fight against the anti-constitutional CAA-NRC, as it is a forerunner and stays a major force in the citizenship agitations across the country,” he said.
Members of the organisation held protests against the raids in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh and Parbhani district, Maharashtra.
Anis Ahmad, PFI general secretary, condemned the raids while speaking at a press conference in Bengaluru. “These raids have happened because of our opposition to the policies of the government,” he said.
Anis recalled several instances in the last one year when the government used Enforcement Directorate against PFI. “In February, when the entire country was against CAA, the same ED was against the Popular Front of India,” he said, adding, “When the Hathras rape happened, the country was in an angry mood against how the UP police had dealt with the case of the gang-raped Dalit woman but even that time, the UP government dragged the Popular Front of India into the episode to divert the attention.
“Now farmers’ protest is happening and the same thing is being repeated.”
He said such misuse of power would not stop PFI but the organisation would face the cases legally and democratically and these actions would not stop the front from raising its voice to seek justice.
According to PFI leaders, the Modi government has always used national agencies against its political opponents and to crush dissent in the country to the point that the credibility of these agencies has come under question.
They opined that today’s raids at the houses of the Popular Front leaders, too, have followed this pattern. The Central government has come under immense pressure following the farmers’ protests blockading Delhi and the ED raids are nothing but a gimmick to divert the issue.
“Popular Front condemns these attempts to malign the organisation. At the same time, Popular Front doesn’t see anything surprising or shocking about it. As a democratically and legally working organisation in the country, our activities are transparent and out in the public. We have nothing to hide,” Anis said.