A team of Uttar Pradesh Police will go to Kerala to seek remand of Rauf Shareef, national general secretary of Campus Front of India, a student wing of the Popular Front of India (PFI), who was arrested Enforcement Directorate (ED) under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on Saturday.
According to ED, the CFI leader allegedly “provided financial support to incite communal disharmony in Uttar Pradesh” after rape and murder of Dalit woman in Hathras, Times of India reported.
ADG, law and order in Uttar Pradesh, Prashant Kumar told reporters that during the questioning of four arrested Muslim youths including Malayalam journalist Siddique Kappan and Campus Front of India national treasurer Atikur Rahman, they revealed that Shareef had provided financial assistance and resources to incite riots in the state.
He said: “Four PFI members, Atiq-ur-Rahman, Siddiqui, Masud Ahmad and Alam, were arrested from Mathura on October 5. During questioning, the four revealed that Sharif, general secretary of Campus Front of India, a student wing of PFI, had provided financial assistance and resources to incite riots in the state.”
Kumar further said: “During probe, it also surfaced that Shareef received crores of rupees from abroad and used it to incite social disharmony and communal riots. A UP Police team will be sent to Kerala to seek remand of Shareef and probe his role and links in funding for creating disharmony after Hathras murder case.”
Atikur Rahman, national treasurer of Campus Front of India (CFI), Masud Khan, Jamia Millia Islamia student, Siddique Kappan, Malayalam journalist and secretary of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) Delhi unit and Alam, a cab driver in Delhi have been in a jail in Mathura under draconian UAPA charges since their arrest on 5 October by the Uttar Pradesh police while they were on their way to Hathras.
According to the UP police, the four men created some websites and used the Hathras incident to create a “caste dispute” by projecting the gang rape and murder as a caste crime.
In a remand application, the police told the court that police was convinced about a “large conspiracy” behind these four men’s visit to Hathras and has enough evidence to charge them for “raising funds for terrorist act,” sedition, promoting enmity between groups, and for “malicious acts, intending to outrage religious feelings.”
With the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) probing the case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also been roped in to further widen the probe.
ED officials with permission from the court questioned the arrested men inside the Mathura jail regarding a 2018 money laundering case involving PFI.
According to ED, Rauf Shareef “illegally received money in his account from Oman and Qatar and the money is suspected to be used for subversive activities.”
Reminiscent of Bhima Koregaon, Delhi riot cases
Many including rights groups and opposition leaders observed that these arrests are the efforts of the Uttar Pradesh government to destroy evidence, scuttle the rape and murder case and protect the perpetrators, dominant caste men of the Thakur community.
The targeting of Muslim activists and journalists is a wanton effort to deflect blame, colour the case and shield the real perpetrators, they said.
They also said the charge of Hathras conspiracy is reminiscent of the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case and the North East Delhi pogrom.
Outrageous: Campus Front of India
Campus Front of India said in an official note that its national general secretary Rauf Shareef’s arrest is “arbitrary detention” and “outrageous.”
It has called for nation wide protest against its national leader’s arrest.
“ED executes BJP’s order to intimidate students’ leaders and movements prelude to CAA-NRC implementation in January 2021,” it alleged.
The students body demanded Rauf Shareef’s immediate release and urged to the government to stop targeting activists and organisations who led historic CAA NRC protest.
“We are not going to refrain from the cause. It’s the hallucinations of BJP that the students draw back from fighting vendetta,” statement by Campus Front of India reads.
(With inputs from news agencies, The Print, Times of India)