The Enforcement Directorate on Friday clarified that there are no links between the Popular Front of India and Bhim Army, India Today reported.
The central agency also dismissed any talk about Rs 100 crore of foreign funds having been pumped into instigating violence in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, and said that no such amount has been recovered, according to News18.
The Enforcement Directorate’s clarification came after former Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police Brij Lal claimed that the Bhim Army and other unidentified outfits were trying to “mislead the family” of the 19-year-old Dalit woman, who was brutally raped and tortured by four men from the upper-caste Thakur community.
“A new turn in the incident came when Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad went to see the woman in hospital along with his supporters,” Lal had said, according to India Today. “Already under stress, the family has become confused with people giving different suggestions and now they are backing out from CBI enquiry and narco/polygraph test.”
Azad, who has been at the forefront of protests against the case, had marched to Hathras on October 4 to meet the woman’s family. A day later, the Uttar Pradesh Police had filed a first information report against him for violating Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code that prevents large gatherings.
However, there have been no reports to confirm he had met the woman in hospital – as claimed by Lal – before she succumbed to her injuries in Delhi on September 29.
The senior police officer also doubted the woman’s family and claimed that they had first accused one man of sexual harassment, but eight days later, they levelled charges of rape against three more men.
Lal, who is also the former chief of Uttar Pradesh Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission, further alleged that the PFI and its affiliate, Campus Front of India, “became active” during the Hathras protests and had pumped in Rs 100 crore for instigating riots over the case.
The Popular Front of India, or PFI, is a Kerala-based Muslim organisation that is seen as radical and has been accused of terror activities. The Adityanath-led state government repeatedly sought to establish connections between PFI, the protests against Citizenship Amendment Law that erupted last year and the subsequent vandalism.
On Wednesday, the Uttar Pradesh Police arrested a Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan and three others who were on their way to Hathras, alleging that they were members of PFI. All four have been booked for sedition.
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The Uttar Pradesh government has repeatedly alleged that the protests against the rape case was an “international plot” to “defame” the state government and “instigate riot along caste lines”. The state police have also filed 19 first information reports in Hathras against unidentified persons for allegedly attempting to incite caste-based conflict after the woman’s death last month.
Adityanath himself had on October 5 claimed the BJP’s political opponents were attempting to conspire against it by “trying to lay a foundation for caste and communal riots through international funding”. On Thursday, he urged Bharatiya Janata Party workers to be on guard against elements who want to incite riots in the state.
Amid mounting pressure and protests, Adityanath on October 3 recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation-monintered inquiry in the case. The matter is being heard by the Supreme Court, which had asked the Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday to file an affidavit on how the witnesses are being protected in the case.
Ahead of the hearing, the Uttar Pradesh government in an affidavit claimed that the midnight cremation was done to avoid large-scale violence in the district. Besides the alleged gangrape and assault case, the government also sought a CBI probe into the FIR related to the alleged criminal conspiracy to spread caste conflict, instigate violence and incidents of “vicious propaganda by sections of media and political interests”.
The government also informed the court that there were no signs suggestive of rape in the case, citing a forensic report that said there were no traces of sperm in samples taken from the woman. But the chief medical officer at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College – where the woman was first admitted – had negated this, saying the report “holds no value” as it relied on samples taken 11 days after the crime was committed. Experts have also pointed out that since the samples for the test were collected many days after the crime was committed, sperm would not be present.