PFI men held bomb training in guise of physical education classes: NIA to court

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By: Anand Singh
Updated: 18 March, 2023 8:34 pm IST
The coordinated raids in the three districts of J&K were necessitated after the agency on Monday conducted searches in Srinagar in the ISIS Kerala module case.

Members of banned Popular Front of India have been imparting arms and bomb training to impressionable Muslim youth under the guise of Physical education training, said the National Investigation Agency in its latest chargesheet.

Cracking the whip on the (PFI), the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has charged 19 persons linked to the banned PFI, including 12 National Executive Council (NEC) members, founding members, and senior leaders, in its fifth chargesheet in the case.

It also alleged that the PFI was recruiting people into its organisation and “imparting weapons training in the guise of Physical Education (PE) classes”.

With the filing of the latest chargesheet, the total number of accused charged by the NIA in PFI cases (Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Delhi) stands at 105, an anti-terror probe agency official said.

The NIA has named PFI members or cadres under various sections of the IPC and UA(P)Act includes — OMA Salam, E M Abdul Rahiman, Anis Ahmed, Afsar Pasha, V P Nazaruddin, E Abubacker, Prof. P Koya, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Abdul Wahid Sait, A S Ismail, Adv Mohd Yusuf, Mohammed Basheer, Shafeer K P, Jaseer K P, Shahid Nasir, Waseem Ahmed, Mohammed Shakif, Muhammed Farooq Ur Rahman and Yasar Arafat aka Yasir Hasan.

They all were arrested in September 2022 following searches by the NIA at 39 locations, including PFI Offices, across the country.

The official said that its probe has revealed that it espoused an Islamic Caliphate by working under the pretext of national integration, communal harmony, and the welfare of minorities and weaker sections.

The official said that NIA’s investigations in the case have also exposed a “trail of funding by PFI to its terror operatives and weapons trainers across the country, both in cash and through regular bank transfers, in the guise of payment of salaries”.

The official said that its probe in the case, under investigation since April 2022, had revealed that a criminal conspiracy was hatched by PFI, acting through the NEC, its members, and persons associated with the PFI, to “divide the country on communal lines”.

“Investigations have revealed that the PFI, acting under the cover of, building a mass organisation and a socio-political movement, was actually 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,” the official said.

The official said that PFI had devised a well-planned strategy to wage an armed struggle against the Government of India by radicalising and recruiting Muslim youth who had already pledged their allegiance to the PFI and its ideology and tactics through the administration of the oath of secrecy and loyalty (bayath).

“These highly radicalised men were being trained in the use of arms and weapons in various Arms Training Camps being conducted by PFI across the country with the intention of raising a well-trained PFI Army/militia. PFI 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 official said.

The official said that all these PFI trainers have been arrested in cases registered either by the NIA or by different state police forces.

The anti-terror probe agency to date has also frozen 37 Bank accounts of the PFI organisation as well as 40 Bank accounts belonging to 19 individuals associated with the PFI, virtually squeezing the organisation’s funding activities.

The crackdown on these bank accounts took place across India, including Guwahati (Assam), Sundipur (West Bengal), Imphal (Manipur), Kozhikode (Kerala), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), New Delhi, Jaipur (Rajasthan), Bangalore (Karnataka), Hyderabad (Telangana) and Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh), the official said.

The official further said that PFI was formed in 2006 with the merger of the National Development Front (NDF) of Kerala and the Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD). OMA Salam was the Chairman, EM Abdul Rahiman the Vice-chairman, VP Nazaruddin the National Secretary, and Anees Ahmed the national general secretary of the National Executive Council or NEC, the top decision-making body in PFI. Some of the other accused were also holding key positions in NEC.

NIA last year registered a case suo motu based on credible inputs in the wake of the arrest of two youths by the Uttar Pradesh ATS in February 2021.

“The youth, identified as Anshad Badruddin, a PFI cadre, and Firoz Khan were nabbed while planning to cause bomb blasts on the occasion of Basant Panchami with the aim of striking terror among the people of a particular religious community and the public at large,” the official said.

The NIA official further said that besides arms and ammunition, the UP ATS seized from Anshad, “a diary containing handwritten text in Malayalam, an electronic detonator, an explosive device with a battery and Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate (PETN)”.

Firoz Khan’s search also led to the seizure of explosives and wires, the official added.

“It was subsequently found that the Malayalam text in the diary seized from Anshad, an active PFI trainer and operative since 2010, contained coded instructions or 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 cause bomb blasts, etc.

“The investigations further showed that the PFI leadership was financing him and other such people to carry out acts of terror and violence in different parts of the country,” the NIA alleged in its chargesheet.

The official further said that Anshad was reportedly tasked with the responsibility of PFI’s cadre expansion and providing weapons training to PFI cadres.

“Anshad had been travelling to different states for recruiting people into the PFI and imparting weapons training in the guise of Physical Education (PE) classes,” the official said adding that its probe revealed that Anshad, along with another PFI cadre Masud Ahmed, was planning to commit terrorist acts.

The official also claimed that Anshad was found to have received about Rs 4 lakhs from various PFI bank accounts for this purpose while Masud Ahmed, who was arrested in October 2020 by the UP Police, had also received money from the PFI.

“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 is still absconding), Mohammed Irfan (also charge-sheeted in Hyderabad in December 2022), and Abdul Khader Puttur (arrested in Bengaluru in September 2022),” the official said.

“The arrest of Anshad and Masud had led to a trail of investigations, which eventually revealed the modus operandi of the PFI. The PFI, banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs in September 2022, was raising or collecting funds from within India and abroad for unleashing violent and terrorist acts in various parts of India, including the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi,” the chargesheet alleged.

It further alleged that the PFI Office bearers, leaders, cadres and members were also involved in radicalizing and recruiting Muslim youth “to join proscribed organizations like ISIS”.

“NIA investigations have also unearthed common syllabus of Physical Education and Arms training across different states, including the use of same code words clearly establishing the conspiracy hatched by the central leadership,” the official said.

The official said that recovery of the “Vision Document of the PFI”, seized in various cases of NIA, clearly proves the conspiracy of the central leadership in recruitment, weapons training, and keeping the cadre ready for an armed rebellion in the future to establish an Islamic Caliphate in India by the year 2047.

The official further alleged that the NIA probe has also exposed PFI’s mechanism of “collecting details of leaders of organisations aligned with a particular community” and of those who didn’t subscribe to their views, in order to commit murders through its Service Teams or Hit Squads and their trained cadres.

“The PFI’s activities included empowerment of Muslims and marginalised sections of the society through campaigns and so-called social welfare schemes, in the guise of which the organisation was promoting its anti-India and violent agenda.

“Its cadres provided physical education training and weapons training, with those completing advanced training being inducted in its Hit Squads or ‘Service Teams’. Radicalisation and recruitment of gullible Muslim youth was an integral part of the PFI strategy,” the NIA alleged.

The anti-terror probe agency further alleged that the NEC members of PFI were found to be involved in arranging for funding for organising Arms training camps, purchase of weapons, and targeted killings.

“Since the outfit was formed in 2006, PFI cadres have been involved in a series of murders and violent attacks in the country, including those of leaders of organisations who are at variance with the PFI on religious ideas and beliefs,” the official added.

In the last one year, the NIA had cracked down on the PFI, its office bearers, and cadres across the country and carried out searches at multiple locations, and arrested several persons.

The agency also unearthed the nefarious conspiracy of the banned outfit for planning the attack.

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