The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed one more charge sheet against the members of the banned Popular Front of India (PFI), in a case pertaining to a criminal conspiracy aimed at destabilising and dismembering the country.
As many as 19 people, including 12 National Executive Council members of the PFI, have been named in the charge sheet — the fifth one this month — filed in a Delhi court on Saturday, 18 March.
The PFI activists included its founding members and senior leaders. The organisation was banned on 28 September, 2022, for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The NIA probe has, according to the agency, exposed the outfit’s funding to its terror operatives and weapons trainers across the country.
Cash and bank transfers
The transactions were made both in cash and through regular bank transfers, in the guise of payment of salaries. All PFI trainers have been arrested in cases registered either by the NIA or by different state police departments.
The NIA has also frozen 37 bank accounts of the PFI as well as 40 bank accounts belonging to 19 PFI-associated individuals.
The crackdown on bank accounts took place across India, including Guwahati (Assam), Sundipur (West Bengal), Imphal (Manipur), Kozhikode (Kerala), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), New Delhi, Jaipur (Rajasthan), Bengaluru (Karnataka), Hyderabad (Telangana) and Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh).
The NIA probe has also found the PFI’s syllabus for physical education and arms training, and code words, establishing the conspiracy hatched by the central leadership, the anti-terror agency said in a media statement.
The vision document
The seized vision document of the PFI pointed at the conspiracy of the central leadership in recruitment, weapons training, and keeping the cadre ready for an armed rebellion to establish an Islamic Caliphate in India by 2047, the NIA statement said.
Investigations have also exposed the PFI’s mechanism of collecting details of leaders of organisations aligned with a particular community and of those who rejected their views. The details were gathered to commit murders through its “service teams” — or hit squads — and trained cadres, the NIA has said.
The case, under investigation since April 2022, revealed that the PFI hatched a criminal conspiracy to divide the country on communal lines.
It has also come to light that the ultimate objective of the conspiracy was to overthrow the existing system of secular and democratic governance in India and replace it with an Islamic Caliphate, along with Sharia, the Islamic Law, the statement said.
Investigations revealed that the PFI, acting under the cover of building a mass organisation and a socio-political movement, was putting together a highly motivated, trained, and secretive elite force within the larger organisation, “to achieve its pernicious and violent long-term objectives of the establishment of Islamic rule in India by 2047”.
Plan to wage war against India exposed
The PFI had devised a well-planned strategy to wage an armed struggle against the Government of India by radicalising and recruiting Muslim youth. These youngsters had pledged allegiance to the PFI and its ideology and tactics by taking an oath of secrecy and loyalty (bayat).
These highly radicalised men were trained in using arms and weapons in PFI’s training camps held across the country. The organisation had hatched plans for its army/militia to wage a war to disintegrate and dismember the Indian Republic, as constituted by the Constitution of India, to establish an Islamic Caliphate, the NIA said.
The PFI members/cadres charge sheeted under various sections of IPC and UAPA have been identified as OMA Salam, EM Abdul Rahiman, Anis Ahmed, Afsar Pasha, VP Nazaruddin, E Abubacker, Prof P Koya, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Abdul Wahid Sait, AS Ismail, Mohd Yusuf, Mohammed Basheer, Shafeer KP, Jaseer KP, Shahid Nasir, Waseem Ahmed, Mohammed Shakif, Muhammed Farooq Ur Rahman, and Yasar Arafat alias Yasir Hasan.
They were arrested in September 2022 following searches by the NIA at 39 locations across the country.
Related video: NIA conducts massive raids on PFI, SDPI offices
The PFI was formed in 2006 by merging the National Development Front (NDF) of Kerala and the Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD).
OMA Salam was the chairman, EM Abdul Rahman was the vice-chairman, VP Nazaruddin, was the national secretary, and Anees Ahmed, was the national general secretary of the National Executive Council or NEC, the top decision-making body of the organisation. Some of the other accused were holding key positions in the NEC.
The NIA registered the case suo motu based on inputs gathered following the arrest of two youths by the Uttar Pradesh ATS in February 2021.
The men, identified as Anshad Badruddin, a PFI cadre, and Firoz Khan, were nabbed while planning to plant explosives on Basant Panchami, to terrorise a particular community and the public at large.
Besides arms and ammunition, the UP ATS seized a diary containing handwritten text in Malayalam, an electronic detonator, an explosive device with a battery, and Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate (PETN) from Anshad. Explosives and cables were found in Firoz’s possession.
It was later found that the Malayalam text contained coded instructions/guidelines on carrying out rioting, arson, strategy for attacks during riots, working style of PFI, route to be followed by PFI’s local area leaders, reconnaissance of local topography, how and where to explode bombs, etc, according to the NIA.
Investigations further showed that the PFI leadership was financing Anshad and others to carry out acts of terror and violence in different parts of the country.
Anshad’s role: Recruitment and training
Anshad was reportedly tasked with the responsibility of expanding the PFI’s cadre base and providing weapons training. He travelled to different states, recruiting people and imparting weapons training in the guise of physical education classes, the NIA said.
Investigations revealed that Anshad, along with another PFI cadre Masud Ahmed, was planning to commit terror acts. Anshad was found to have received about ₹4 lakh from various PFI bank accounts.
Masud Ahmed, who was arrested in October 2020 by the UP police, too, had received money from the PFI, NIA’s statement said.
Among others who had similarly received funds from PFI for terrorist activities in the country were Mohammed Abdul Ahad (who was charge sheeted in Hyderabad in December 2022 and still absconding), Mohammed Irfan (also charge-sheeted in Hyderabad), and Abdul Khader Puttur (arrested in Bengaluru in September 2022).
The arrests of Anshad and Masud revealed the modus operandi of the PFI. The organisation was raising or collecting funds from within India and abroad for unleashing violent and terror acts in various parts of India.
The PFI office-bearers, leaders, cadres, and members were also involved in radicalising and recruiting Muslim youth to join proscribed organizations like ISIS.
The PFI’s activities included the empowerment of Muslims and the marginalised sections of society through campaigns and so-called social welfare schemes — a cover for promoting its anti-India and violent agenda.
‘Service teams’ — or hit squads
Its cadres were provided physical education and weapons training, and those who completed advanced training were drafted into hit squads or ‘service teams’. Radicalisation and recruitment of gullible Muslim youth was an integral part of the PFI strategy.
The NEC members were reportedly involved in raising funds for holding arms training camps, the purchase of weapons, and targeted killings.
Since its formation in 2006, PFI cadres have been involved in a series of murders and violent attacks in the country, including those on leaders of organisations who are at variance with the PFI on religious ideas and beliefs, the NIA release added.