The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has allegedly found that the recent violent protests in Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) had an alleged "financial link" with the Kerala-based Popular Front of India (PFI), a claim termed as "baseless" by the organisation.
Official sources said on Monday that the federal probe agency, which is investigating the PFI under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) since 2018, has found that at least Rs 1.04 crore were deposited in several bank accounts linked to the organisation between December 4 last year and January 6 this year in various parts of the country.
This was the time when Parliament passed the law to grant citizenship to non-Muslims who were persecuted on religious grounds in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The sources said a total amount of Rs 120 crore, credited to bank accounts linked to the PFI, are under the ED's scanner.
"The Popular Front of India has stated it multiple times that we fully comply with the law of the land and the allegation of Rs 120 crore transferred from the Popular Front's accounts just before the CAA protests is totally baseless and the people who are levelling these allegations should prove these claims," the organisation said in a statement.
The sources claimed that these dubious deposits were either made in cash or through the immediate payment service (IMPS) and a number of such instances were seen in Uttar Pradesh, where the maximum number of violent anti-CAA protests were reported to have taken place.
Quoting the ED findings, the sources said, the withdrawal of money from the bank accounts linked to PFI and its related entities had a "direct correlation" with the violent demonstrations against the CAA.
It is suspected and alleged that these funds were used by PFI affiliates to fuel the anti-CAA protests in various parts of Uttar Pradesh and other locations, the sources said.
The PFI said the allegations levelled against it were unfounded.
"We are confident that the fate of this series of allegations will also be like the ones before, which could never be proved.
"Recently, the UP and Assam governments alleged Popular Front's role in the anti-CAA protests-related violence and even arrested our state-level leaders. But their claims proved to be nothing but imagination when they could not prove anything in court and our leaders were released on bail," the organisation said.
The Popular Front, it said, will not be bowed down by "such cheap campaigning by the forces backed by the fascist who wants to stop us".
The sources claimed that there were instances of about 80-90 money withdrawals from one bank account in a day during the stated period.
They said the ED had also shared these findings with the Union home ministry's internal security division after the latter asked it to obtain facts.
The Uttar Pradesh police also sought a ban on the PFI recently, days after its alleged complicity was suspected in the statewide violent protests against the amended citizenship law. Nearly 20 people had died during these protests.
The ED, the sources said, found out that the funds deposited in banks were also routed from foreign shores and sent to the accounts of certain investment firms.
A National Investigation Agency FIR and chargesheet against the PFI formed the basis for the ED to file the PMLA case against the organisation.The PFI was formed in 2006 in Kerala as a successor to the National Democratic Front (NDF).