Ghaziabad Police have registered an FIR against journalist Rana Ayyub, days after online crowdfunding site Ketto issued an email to people who donated money to campaigns established by her, stating they had been told by ‘Indian law enforcement officials’ that the monies were ‘not utilised for the purpose for which they were obtained.’
Calls, texts, and emails to Ayyub went unanswered. The FIR was registered when a co-founder of the ‘Hindu IT Cell’ filed a complaint accusing her of unlawfully obtaining public funds in the guise of charity. Vikas Sankrityayan filed a police complaint in Ghaziabad alleging that Ketto had written a letter to people who had given to Ayyub’s campaigns.
Ayyub is also accused of violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act by ‘receiving foreign money without any form of authorisation certificate/registration from the government.’
Ketto’s email, which was sent on August 27, said, ‘Ketto has been informed by the Indian law enforcement agencies that the funds (partly of fully) raised in the said campaigns were not utilised for the purpose for which they were raised and the funds (partly) are still in the accounts of the respective campaigns.’
Ketto’s representatives did not reply to queries about the law enforcement authorities who contacted them.
Ayyub had established three campaigns, according to Ketto’s email to donors: one for slum residents and farmers, one for relief efforts in Assam, Bihar, and Maharashtra, and one for individuals affected by Covid-19 in India.
The email further stated, ‘When enquired by Ketto, the campaigner has intimated that out of the total funds received (about 1.90 crores INR net) and 1.09 lakhs USD (net) for these campaigns (total around Rs 2.69 crore approx), only a portion has been spent (about 1.25 crores), and certain amounts have been or will be paid as taxes (about 90 lakhs). The balance funds, after these debits, are still retained by the campaigner.’
The FIR was registered under IPC sections 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 418 (cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may result to person whose interest offender is bound to protect), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), section 66D of the IT Act, and section 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.