‘Process To Ban PFI Started’: Karnataka HM Amid Kerala Hartal Over NIA Raids

Central agencies like the NIA and the ED raided 93 locations linked to the PFI across 15 states on Thursday.
The Quint
South India News
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Police attempted to detain Popular Front of India and Social Democratic Party of India workers during a protest against the raids by the National Investigation Agency in Karnataka's Hubballi on Thursday, 22 September. 

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(Photo: PTI)

)<div class="paragraphs"><p>Police attempted to detain Popular Front of India and Social Democratic Party of India workers during a protest against the raids by the National Investigation Agency in Karnataka's Hubballi on Thursday, 22 September.&nbsp;</p></div>

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra, on Friday, 23 September, said that the process to permanently ban the Popular Front of India (PFI) has started, a day after 93 locations linked to the organisation were searched across 15 states, in what officials described as the "largest-ever investigation process till date."

Meanwhile, the top brass of the PFI is observing a dawn-to-dusk hartal across Kerala on Friday.

The Kerala High Court has taken suo motu cognisance of the violence that broke out during the hartal and is adjudicating the matter. The court has also observed that no prior permission was sought by the PFI to conduct the hartal.

PFI Members Detained, At Least 11 Arrested on Friday

Police have detained five PFI workers in Kochi and Karnataka for allegedly vandalising shops and vehicles during the protest, and a PFI leader originally from West Bengal has been arrested in Delhi, news agency ANI reported.

"So far, the police have arrested 11 PFI leaders," Hiren Nath, ADGP (Special Branch), Assam Police, told ANI on Friday.

Stone pelting, allegedly by PFI activists, was reported in parts of Kerala, and a 15-year-old girl and an autorickshaw driver suffered minor injuries in Kozhikode and Kannur respectively.

In TN, Protesters Damage Vehicles of BJP Workers

In the backdrop of the National Investigation Agency conducting raids on the group in Coimbatore on Friday, vehicles belonging to the members of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Hindu Munnani were damaged in Tamil Nadu's Pollachi.

As per the police, miscreants hurled a plastic cover filled with diesel on the car parked outside the house of a BJP functionary at Kumaran Nagar and attempted to set it on fire.

Similarly, a car belonging to another BJP member was also damaged by miscreants in the same area, and two autorickshaws belonging to Hindu Munnani members were also damaged.

Police have registered cases and investigations are on.

Kerala Police Deploys Additional Security

Meanwhile, the Kerala Police has beefed up security across the state and issued instructions to district police chiefs to maintain law and order.

"All the policemen in the state will be deployed for the maintenance of law and order," a statement by the police said.

The PFI said in a statement that the hartal would be held from 6 am to 6 pm "against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-controlled fascist government's attempt to silence dissenting voices using the central agencies," news agency PTI reported.

Stones were pelted at Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses (KSRTC) in various districts, including Thiruvananthapuram, Wayanad, Alappuzha, and Kozhikode, according to news agency PTI. KSRTC buses, a tanker lorry, and some other vehicles were damaged in stone pelting in Alappuzha.

A petrol bomb was reportedly hurled at a vehicle carrying newspapers in the morning.

106 PFI Members Arrested During Searches on Thursday

The offices and residences of several leaders of PFI were raided by central agencies like the NIA and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday.

Several PFI workers had undertaken marches to locations where the searches were being carried out.

The NIA on Thursday arrested 106 members of the outfit for allegedly supporting terror activities. Officials said that Kerala, where the PFI is the strongest, accounted for the maximum arrests, at 22.

PFI State President CP Mohammed Basheer, National Chairman OMA Salam, National Secretary Nasaruddin Elamaram, and former Chairman E Abubacker were among the most prominent persons to be arrested.

Further, journalist and National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO) General Secretary Professor P Koya was also arrested by the agencies from Kerala.

Maharashtra and Karnataka accounted for 20 arrests each, while Tamil Nadu accounted for nine.

The PFI has been under the radar of security agencies for its role in violent protests in different parts of the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, alleged forced conversions, radicalisation of Muslim youths, money laundering, and links with banned groups, officials said.

(With inputs from NDTV and PTI.)

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