Central agency arrests five hawala operatives from Kerala, Karnataka
Cracking its whip on the interstate hawala funding of the Popular Front of India (PFI), the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested five hawala operatives in Phulwarisharif PFI case.
A NIA official said here that while tracing and tracking the funds being moved by the PFI across the country, especially in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar etc., NIA investigations into the Phulwarisharif PFI case of Bihar have led to the unearthing of a large network of hawala operatives in South India and their arrest from Karnataka.
“A PFI funding-by-hawala module operating out of Bihar and Karnataka with roots in the UAE has been busted with the arrests of five PFI operatives from Kasargod, Kerala and Dakshin Kannada, Karnataka,” the official said.
The agency official further said that PFI cadres in Phulwarisharif and Motihari had vowed to continue PFI activities in a clandestine manner in Bihar. They also arranged a firearm and ammunition recently to eliminate a youth of a particular community in Bihar’s East Champaran District.
Three operatives of the module had been arrested on February 5 this year.
The 5 arrested today – Mahammad Sinan, Sarfraz Nawaz, Iqbal, Abdul Rafeek M, all residents of Dakshin Kannada in Karnataka and Abid KM, a resident of Kasaragod in Kerala – have been found to be actively involved in PFI’s criminal conspiracy to move and channelise illicit funds procured from outside India for distribution among PFI leaders and cadres.
Seven accused persons have already been arrested earlier in this case. They had gathered in Phulwarisharif area of Patna in July last year for training and to carry out acts of terror and violence.
The anti-terror probe agency teams have been carrying out extensive searches in Kasargod (Kerala) and Dakshin Kannada, Karnataka since Sunday.
The NIA team carried out searches at eight locations leading to the seizure of multiple digital devices and incriminating documents containing details of transactions running into several crore rupees, the official said.
The NIA which has been pursuing the investigational leads since July 2022, found that despite the ban on PFI imposed on September 27, the PFI and its leaders and cadres continued to propagate the ideology of violent extremism and were also arranging arms and ammunition to commit crimes.
“Following the money, NIA investigators reached Sarfraz Nawaz and Mahammad Sinan, who had been found making deposits in the bank accounts of accused and suspects in the PFI case,” the official said.
They added that dogged pursuit of the money trail and connecting the dots, NIA managed to unravel the international conspiracy and linkages to the funds while investigating Iqbal and other associates who had collected illegally generated funds from Dubai and Abu Dhabi and handed them over to Mahammad Sinan, Sarfraz Nawaz, Abdul Rafeek M and Abid KM in India.
Investigations have shown that Mohammad Sarfaraz, Mohammad Sinan and Mohammad Rafeek deposited this money in different bank accounts of accused and the suspects, the official added.
The official said that further investigations are on track to trace and choke international as well domestic illicit funding channels of the banned PFI.