The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday conducted almost simultaneous searches of the houses of at least three top leaders of the Popular Front of India (PFI) in Kerala.
Officials said an ED team from New Delhi carried out surprise inspections at the residences of PFI chairman O.M.A. Salam and secretary Nasarudeen Elamaram in Malappuram. In Thiruvananthapuram, ED officials searched the house of PFI leader Karamana Ashraf Maulavi at Poonthura. They faced some protests in the coastal locality. Armed paramilitary personnel escorted the raiding parties.
Officials here indicated that the inspections in Kerala were part of a nationwide operation that targeted suspicious PFI fund flow. Officials here said the ED in New Delhi was investigating at least two anti-money laundering cases against the PFI. The agency was probing whether the PFI’s alleged acceptance of funds from foreign entities over the years violated FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) and PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) regulations.
Mr. Elamaram told The Hindu that the ED officials had knocked on the door of his house at dawn. He was not at home at the time. His brother told him that the officials confiscated a laptop computer, some pen drives and a few books from his library.
“They (ED officials) behaved courteously,” he said. At the time of the raid, only his family was at home. The inspection lasted for a few hours.
The PFI leader said the current raids were politically motivated. The Centre was desperate to draw public attention away from the farmers’ protest. Mr. Elamaram said the PFI’s constitution prohibited the organisation from accepting foreign funds. Voluntary donations from members financed its political and charitable activities.