New Delhi: First, the Uttar Pradesh government sought to blame the protests across the state against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizen on ‘instigation’ by the Kerala-based Popular Front of India (PFI). Now, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has put out a claim through unnamed officials that the protests which have spread across India are all apparently being financed by a front organisation of the PFI – the Rehab Foundation of India (RFI).
The IANS new agency, which has reported this unverified claim, does not name the ED ‘source’ or provide any indications of his or her position in the organisation. Apart from the claim of a hidden hand directing the spontaneous, leaderless protests which have broken out across the country, the anonymous ‘source’ also alleged the RFI had paid lawyers such as Kapil Sibal, Dushyant Dave and Indira Jaising as part of its efforts to fund anti-CAA protests.
Incidentally, none of the three lawyers are involved in the ongoing protests in any way.
In a reaction to the IANS story, Jaising has denied the allegations and in her press statement has claimed that she has not received any money from the PFI, or for that matter any organisation, in relation to the anti-CAA protests.
My statement denying receipt of money from PFI in relation to anti CAA protests or for any other reason or purpose whatsoever. @PTI_News @ZeeNews @ndtv @CNNnews18 @LiveLawIndia @barandbench @AltNews @scroll_in @thewire_in @the_hindu pic.twitter.com/HM1ECWDmxI
— Indira Jaising (@IJaising) January 27, 2020
“While keeping a tab on the PFI, we identified 73 bank accounts. And following the money trail of the funding we came to know about the RFI, which has channelled over Rs 120 crore into the anti-CAA and anti-NRC protests,” the ‘ED source’ was quoted by IANS as having said.
Neither the ‘source’ nor IANS has provided any evidence of the ongoing protests actually being “funded” by any individual or group.
The bank accounts with huge transactions, according to the ED, were detected in the last two months. IANS has quoted an ED source as having said, “The ED has been keeping a close tab on the 27 bank accounts of PFI, nine bank accounts of RFI, 37 individuals and entities in 17 different banks.”
“During the probe, it was found that the money transferred into these bank accounts were either cash deposits, transferred through NEFT or RTGS or IMPS mode. And the amounts were withdrawn on the same day or within two to three days leaving only minimal amount in these bank accounts,” the source revealed.
PFI, as reported by India Today, has rejected the allegations made and has claimed that the agency is misconstruing financial papers and that any payment it has made, in fact, was part of legal fees at the time of the Hadiya court case.
According to a LiveMint piece, PFI was set up in 2006 as a successor to the National Development Fund (NDF), which was formed in Kerala in 1993 and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP) in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD) in Karnataka. The PFI has been accused of political killings in Kerala, as have other organisations there, and there is speculation that the Centre may seek to ban the organisation.