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2nd Nationwide Crackdown on PFI: Many Detained in Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka

Last week, the NIA and Enforcement Directorate, along with the state police, raided 93 locations.

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In raids carried out across the country, authorities detained and arrested workers of the Popular Front of India (PFI) in at least six states, including Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat on Tuesday, 27 September.

Last week, the National Investigation Agency and the Enforcement Directorate, along with the state police, had raided 93 locations across 15 states and arrested over 100 PFI members.

A possible ban looms over the offshoot of the National Democratic Front (NDF) for its alleged involvement in terror activities.

"Everything is happening as per rules. The investigation has been on for the past 4-5 years. Action has been taken only after evidence was collected. I would say that they wanted to cause a divide in the country," Maharashtra's Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said.

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Meanwhile, PFI, reacting to the development, said that the raids at its offices and residences of the leaders are intended to generate terror.

In a Facebook post, they said that when the investigative agencies conducted the ‘raids’, they couldn’t find any incriminating documents or evidence from the raids that were conducted after arresting the leaders.

'Attempt to Generate Feeling of Terror'

The PFI said that there was a deliberate attempt to generate a feeling of terror among people about it, a legally and transparently functioning organisation.

The organisation also alleged that the term “crackdown” that is being used by the agencies and the media to describe the arrests and raids "itself conveys the intention of the regime to assign a stigma to the organisation and consequently terrorise the general public."

"This is just a witch hunt to dissenting voices," it added. Refuting allegations that the outfit was planning an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the PFI said that the allegation exposes the incompetence of our intelligence agencies. "May be the Sangh Parivar has a plot, and this seems to be a pre-emptive strike to attack its leader and put the blame on the Popular Front to win the 2024 election. In fact, the Sangh Parivar is terrorising the Muslims by denying them basic rights, spreading extreme hatred, openly giving discriminating calls, lynching and abusing Muslims in the streets, bulldozing their homes with wild justifications, and by keeping the country's judicial system as their puppet," it said.

It also refuted the allegations of radicalising the youth and said that PFI is doing exactly the opposite. "They are preventing the people from getting radicalised by teaching and making them aware of their Constitutional rights, encouraging them to participate in the political process of the country, respecting democracy and the Constitution, and the need to live in harmony," it said.

Meanwhile, Kerala's ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday, 27 September, said a ban should be imposed on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

"If an organisation has to be banned, then it has to be RSS. It is the main organisation carrying out communal activities. Will it be banned? Banning an extremist organisation will not address the problem.

RSS has been banned in the past. The CPI has been banned. Banning an organisation will not end it or its ideology. They would only come back with a new name or identity. We need to create awareness against such groups and take legal action against them when they commit any illegality," he told reporters.

"The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation (CPIML) on Twitter called the raids "a conscious attempt by the Modi government to spread Islamophobia among the public and demonise Muslims as a community."

The places where PFI activists were nabbed by the state authorities on Tuesday, 27 September, include:

Delhi 

On Tuesday, 30 people associated with the outfit were detained in the national capital after raids at multiple locations, including Nizamuddin and Shaheen Bagh, news agency PTI quoted officials as saying.

The raids were reportedly conducted early morning by the special cell of the Delhi Police.

Further, Delhi Police Public Relations Officer (PRO) Suman Nalwa confirmed that in a "joint, coordinated action" against the PFI, 30 people have been detained so far. However, no case has been registered yet

Assam

Police arrested 25 PFI activists from different districts of Assam on Tuesday, according to PTI.

The highest number of PFI activists, 10, were held in Goalpara, five in Kamrup (Rural), and three in Dhubri, followed by arrests in Barpeta, Baksa, Darrang, Udalguri, and Karimganj.

After the nationwide crackdown on the outfit last week, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma had said that his government has been urging the Centre to ban the outfit for allegedly creating an ecosystem of terror activities.

Karnataka

Meanwhile, in Karnataka, the state police detained several PFI leaders in the urban and rural areas of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts early on Tuesday.

Since 22 September, 80 people have been arrested under preventive measures. PFI leaders were taken into custody from Mangaluru, Ullal, Talapady, and other parts of the DK district.

Around 20 members affiliated with the organisation were put under preventive arrest on Tuesday, with cases being filed against them under Sections 107 and 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Meanwhile, five PFI leaders were taken into custody by the Udupi district police in raids conducted on their houses.

Sources said that raids were conducted at Hoode, Gangolli, Byndoor, Adi Udupi, and Belagavi. The detained persons are from Byndoor and Adi Udupi.

Gujarat

As per an official, at least 10 people have been detained in Gujarat after they were questioned over alleged links with the PFI.

A joint team of the state's Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) and the NIA conducted the raids on Tuesday, an official said.

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Maharashtra

Police have arrested four activists of the PFI from different locations in Maharashtra's Thane district for alleged anti-national activities, an official said on Tuesday.

The arrests were made on Monday night in a joint operation carried out in the district by local police and crime branch officials, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Laxmikant Patil said.

In Aurangabad, the ATS and state police detained around 13 PFI workers on Tuesday. Pune Police detained 6 persons from Kondhwa. These numbers are expected to rise.

Around 40 people linked to the PFI have been detained from Aurangabad, Solapur, Amravati, Pune, Thane, and Mumbai so far, according to the Maharashtra Police.

Madhya Pradesh

In eight districts of Madhya Pradesh, the state police detained 21 people with ties to the PFI on Tuesday.

Uttar Pradesh

In Uttar Pradesh, a total of 57 office bearers and members of the PFI have been arrested on Tuesday in raids by UP police teams across 26 districts in the state, Additional Director General of Police (Law & Order) Prashant Kumar told reporters.

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