The journalist was arrested in October last year while on his way to report on the gangrape and murder of a Dalit girl in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras.
The Enforcement Directorate has filed a prosecution complaint under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against five alleged members of the Popular Front of India and its student wing, the Campus Front of India, including journalist Siddique Kappan, Indian Express reported on Friday.
Kappan, who is from Kerala but was based in Delhi, was arrested on October 5 last year while on his way to Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, to report on the gangrape and murder of a young Dalit woman by four upper caste Thakur men. He was booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and other penal provisions.
After his arrest, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists denied Kappan had any connection with the PFI, Live Law reported in January.
The other four men named in the chargesheet are Atikur Rahman, national treasurer of CFI, Masud Ahmed, Delhi general secretary of CFI, KA Rauf Sherif, national general secretary of CFI, and Muhammad Alam, the driver who drove Kappan to Hathras.
In a press conference in October 2020, Rauf had pointed out that Alam wasn’t associated with any of the other men he drove, but had still been charged with sedition. “We hired him to take them from Delhi to Hathras,” Rauf said. “If they had taken an Uber instead, the Uber driver too would have been arrested.”
In its statement, the ED alleged that the PFI funded and participated in the protests against the new citizenship law in late 2019, supposedly inciting violence that led to the Delhi carnage in February 2020. In respect to the more specific incident investigated in their complaint, the ED alleged the Kappan and the other men were on their way to Hathras to disturb communal harmony, incite communal violence, and spread terror.
The chargesheet additionally alleged that Sherif entered into a “criminal conspiracy” with unnamed PFI members stationed in the Gulf countries “to fraudulently transfer money raised/collected abroad by PFI in the guise of payments related to business transactions”, Scroll reported.
It added, “The ‘proceeds of crime’ amounting to around Rs 1.36 crore was obtained as a result of criminal activity relating to the offence of criminal conspiracy under section 120-B of IPC and part of it was used by PFI/CFI office bearers/members/activists in India for their continuous unlawful activities.”
It further claimed that Sherif funnelled funds to Rehman and Ahmed, who used some of the money to buy a car to travel to Hathras 15 days before their arrest.
Kappan, who is currently jailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura, is awaiting a nod from the Supreme Court to visit his ailing mother.