The police in Uttar Pradesh has arrested 108 members of the Popular Front of India in the last four days for their alleged involvement in protests against the citizenship law, a senior official said on Monday, 3 February.
The arrests are in addition to the 25 made earlier, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi told reporters.
“This is just the beginning. We will get to the roots of the organisation. A probe is also going on about their financial dealings. We are in touch with central agencies and are sharing information with them,” he said, adding that Uttar Pradesh is the first state to take this kind of action against the organisation.
Giving details, acting Director General of Police (DGP) Hitesh Chandra Awasthi said 14 people were arrested in Lucknow, 21 in Meerut, 20 in Varanasi, 16 in Bahraich, three in Sitapur, nine in Ghaziabad, six in Muzaffarnagar, seven in Shamli, four in Bijnore, five in Kanpur and one each in Gonda, Hapur and Jaunpur.
Asked whether the state police has any information about the PFI’s financial transactions from the Enforcement Directorate (ED), he said, “We are collecting evidence”. He added that they were continuously interacting with the ED and other agencies but declined to comment further.
In December 2019, Uttar Pradesh Police sought a ban on the PFI, suspecting the organisation's complicity in the statewide violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The ban was sought after PFI’s Uttar Pradesh Head Wasim and 16 other activists were arrested for allegedly masterminding the violence in Lucknow during anti-CAA protests.
The PFI was formed in 2006 in Kerala as a successor to the National Democratic Front (NDF). Security agencies have alleged its leaders have been groomed in the SIMI ideology.