Journalist Rana Ayyub, a fierce critic of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been named in a charge sheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate over alleged money laundering linked to funds that she collected from the public for social welfare work, including COVID-19 relief.
Rana Ayyub is an Indian journalist and opinion columnist with The Washington Post. She is also a Muslim activist.She is author of the investigative book Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover up.
A journalist with a Leftist stand, Rana Ayyub has been accused many times of her vociferous support for Islamic fundamentalism. She is also known for her pioneering work in the Gujarat riots. It was her series of articles that were behind the custody of Amit Shah. She has also written a book named Gujarat Files based on her investigation. However, the book was rejected by the Indian court calling it just a work of fiction.
Rana Ayyub was born in Jammu and Kashmir, India. She did her schooling in Srinagar. She went to Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi for her graduation. Also, she did her post-graduation from the same university in the field of Social Communications and Media.
Rana Ayyub had started to become a controversial personality while working with Tehelka magazine. She had strong views against the political party, Bharatiya Janata Party. The magazine had also provided her lots of funds to work on a sting operation for several months.
Earlier this year, she came under attack on Twitter by Saudi Netizens after she posted a Tweet slamming Saudi Arabia for launching a military operation against Yemen. She was accused of peddling fake news and supporting terrorism.
The ED case is based on an FIR by the Uttar Pradesh Police last year where it was alleged that Ayyub collected huge funds through Ketto, an online crowdfunding platform, in the name of relief work but diverted the funds. Ms. Ayyub, who is in the US for a journalism event, tweeted “My pen can never be silenced.” “My pen can never be silenced. Ironic that I conducted a seminar yesterday, here in the US, on the attack on the free press in India. I will continue to raise my voice against the persecution of the marginalized in the country. My statement. All I have to say,” Ms Ayyub said.
The probe agency said Ms. Ayyub received money from abroad without having registered with the authority for Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, or FCRA, which acts as India’s watchdog as well as a rulebook to prevent misuse of donations flowing in from outside the country.
The Enforcement Directorate, or ED, said donations were channeled into the bank accounts of Ms. Ayyub’s father and sister, and subsequently transferred to her personal accounts. She created a fixed deposit of ₹ 50 lakh and sent ₹ 50 lakh to a new account, the ED said, adding only ₹ 29 lakh was used for social welfare work.
“Investigations conducted by Directorate of Enforcement make it abundantly clear that the funds were raised in the name of charity in a completely pre-planned and systematic manner and the funds were not utilized completely for the purpose of which the funds were raised,” the ED had said in a statement then.
According to ED, its investigations disclosed that instead of utilizing the funds for the relief work, Ayyub parked some of it by opening a separate current bank account. “Ms. Rana Ayyub also created a Fixed Deposit of Rs. 50 Lakh from the funds raised on Ketto and subsequently did not utilize these for relief works. She deposited a total of Rs 74.50 lakhs in PM Cares fund and CM Relief Fund,” the ED said in a statement.
When Ms. Ayyub’s assets were frozen in February this year, the ED had said they did find she had deposited a total of ₹ 74.50 lakh in PM CARES Fund and the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. The money laundering case against Ms. Ayyub is based on a First Information Report, or FIR, filed by Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad Police in September, by a Vikas Sankrityayan – the founder of an NGO called “Hindu IT Cell” and a resident of Indirapuram in Ghaziabad.