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Ban on PFI Imminent After Countrywide NIA & ED Raids, Claims Karnataka Home Min

PFI and SDPI workers have staged protests against the ongoing raids.

Updated
Politics
6 min read

A possible ban stares the Popular Front of India (PFI) in the face for its alleged involvement in terror activities after law-enforcement agencies on Thursday, 22 September, conducted searches against it at 93 locations across 15 states in what officials described as the "largest-ever investigation process till date."

Amid the raids, Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said that the crackdown on PFI and the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) has started, and with the raids being conducted, the procedure to ban the two organisation has begun.

"The two organisations are said to have links with terror outfits. We have initiated the process to ban them."
Araga Jnanendra, Karnataka Home Minister

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.

The officials said that the criminal and violent acts allegedly carried out by the PFI over a period of time – such as the chopping off of the hand of a college professor in Kerala, cold-blooded killings of people linked with organisations espousing other faiths, collection of explosives to target prominent people and places, support to Islamic State, and destruction of public property – have had a demonstrative effect of striking terror in the minds of the citizens.

The National Investigation Agency, according to the officials, has secured 45 convictions as part of the earlier investigations against the PFI and has charge sheeted 355 people in these cases.

'Largest-Ever Raids'

The NIA and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), on Thursday, conducted multiple raids at the offices and residences of leaders of PFI across several states in India, arresting over 106 PFI members.

PFI Chairman OMA Salam, Kerala PFI Chief CP Mohammed Basheer, National Secretary VP Nazarudheen, national council member P Koya, and others were taken into custody by the probe agency as well.

The raids are said to be the 'largest-ever probe' by NIA and ED across 11 states.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah is chairing a high-level meeting regarding the raids by the NIA on PFI.

The searches are being carried out at the residences and offices of "persons involved in funding terrorism, organising training camps, and radicalising people to join proscribed organisations," news agency ANI reported.

PFI's national executive council condemned the nationwide raids, 'unjust' arrests, and harassment of its leaders, and the witch-hunt against the PFI members and supporters.

What Law Enforcement Has Claimed

According to law-enforcement agencies, the PFI has over 50,000 members and a large number of sympathisers in Kerala.

"The PFI cadres are consciously encouraged to intervene and react even in minor cases against members of the Muslim community. The PFI cadres are also encouraged to act as the guardian of Islamic values, thus effectively converting them into moral police," says a document prepared by a security agency.

"The cadres are given training in martial arts and combat using sticks, and knives, or swords at some locations in their strongholds."
Document prepared by a security agency

The PFI allegedly receives funds from its sympathisers, mostly Indians, based in the Gulf countries.

In near-simultaneous raids across the length and breadth of the country, a multi-agency operation spearheaded by the NIA on Thursday led to the arrest of 106 PFI activists for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country, officials said.

The maximum number of arrests were made in Kerala (22), followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka (20 each), Tamil Nadu (10), Assam (9), Uttar Pradesh (8), Andhra Pradesh (5), Madhya Pradesh (4), Puducherry and Delhi (3 each), and Rajasthan (2).

Protests Erupt Across States

PFI and SDPI workers reportedly staged a protest in Karnataka's Mangaluru against the ongoing raids and many protesters have been detained by the police.

A huge deployment of police personnel was made during the raids. CRPF personnel have been positioned at the Nallikai Road in Mangaluru to beef up security and the road has been completely closed off.

More than 50 workers are also protesting in Chennai and outside the PFI office in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu.

Protests erupted in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh as well.

"We strongly protest the fascist regime's moves to use agencies to silence dissenting voices," the organisation said in a statement, according to news agency PTI.

PFI activists also staged protests across Kerala and called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Kerala on Friday to mark their strong protest against the central agencies' act.

  • <div class="paragraphs"><p>Police detain Popular Front of India (PFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) workers during a protest against the raid of National Investigation Agency (NIA), in Hubballi, on Thursday, 22 September.</p></div>

    Police detain Popular Front of India (PFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) workers during a protest against the raid of National Investigation Agency (NIA), in Hubballi, on Thursday, 22 September.

    (Photo: PTI)

  • <div class="paragraphs"><p>Police attempt to detain Popular Front of India (PFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) workers during a protest against the raid of National Investigation Agency (NIA),  on Thursday, 22 September.</p></div>

    Police attempt to detain Popular Front of India (PFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) workers during a protest against the raid of National Investigation Agency (NIA), on Thursday, 22 September.

    (Photo: PTI)

  • <div class="paragraphs"><p>Police attempt to detain Popular Front of India (PFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) workers during a protest against the raid of National Investigation Agency (NIA),  on Thursday, 22 September.</p></div>

    Police attempt to detain Popular Front of India (PFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) workers during a protest against the raid of National Investigation Agency (NIA), on Thursday, 22 September.

    (Photo: PTI)

Raids Conducted in Several States

Raids have been conducted in Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Assam, and Maharashtra, among others states.

In Maharashtra, 20 people linked to the PFI, including two PFI office bearers from Pune, have been detained amid the raids.

In Telangana, NIA has sealed the PFI head office in Hyderabad and searches are ongoing at the PFI office in Purnia, Bihar.

In Tamil Nadu, PFI workers have taken to protesting in Chennai as well as outside the PFI office in the Dindigul district. Searches are currently going on at eight places in Madurai city area, including Villapuram, Gomatipuram, and Kulamangalam.

In Assam, the police detained nine persons linked to PFI across the state. A senior police official told news agency ANI that on the night of Wednesday, 21 September, the Assam police and the NIA launched a joint search operation in the Harigaon area in Guwahati.

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PFI Condemns NIA and ED's Harassment of Leaders

In a statement issued today, PFI's national executive council (NEC) has condemned the raids, the 'unjust' arrests, and harassment of its national and state leaders, and the witch-hunting against PFI members and supporters.

"NIA's baseless claims and sensationalism are solely aimed at creating an atmosphere of terror. Popular Front will never ever surrender on any scary action by a totalitarian regime using the central agencies as its puppets and will stand firm on its will for recovering the democratic system and spirit of the constitution of our beloved country," PFI NEC said in a press release.

Anti-Terrorism Squad Detains 4 People Linked to PFI

An Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) team from Pune and Mumbai has detained four people belonging to PFI from different parts of Aurangabad city.

An ATS operation is currently going on in Mumbai, Pune, Thane, and Nashik areas.

With the help of Aurangabad ATS, the Pune and Mumbai ATS team has detained Syed Faisal, a Zomato delivery boy who was formerly associated with PFI from the HUDCO area. Imran Milli has been detained from the Kiradpura area. The third person who was detained is from Aurangabad itself but had moved to other areas. An investigation into the four people in custody is now underway.

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Giriraj Singh Calls PFI a ‘Terrorist Organisation', Rahul Gandhi Says ’No Tolerance for Communalism’

"There are laws in place, I have no comments on that. One thing I will say though, is that today, PFI is a terrorist organisation that engages in anti-national activities," Giriraj Singh, Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, told reporters.

Claiming that PFI "collects funds, protests against India, and provokes public opinion," Singh said that when such an organisation got investigated, it was portrayed as a cultural organisation.

Slamming Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, he said that Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav play appeasement politics.

"The number of sleeper cell terrorists in Bihar is only increasing and that it is happening due to political protection," Singh added.

Rahul Gandhi said that all forms of communalism should be combated, regardless of where they come from, according to PTI.

"There should be zero tolerance towards it," he added.

While question raids on the organisation, Samajwadi Party MP Shafiqur Rahman Barq asked what is their crime and why people associated with it are being arrested.

The NIA is also investigating the murder of Bharatiya Janata Party youth wing leader Praveen Nettar at Bellare in the Dakshina Kannada district on 26 July.

Earlier on 18 September, the NIA had conducted raids at 38 locations across Hyderabad, Kurnool, and Nellore districts in relation to a case against PFI member Abdul Khader and 26 others.

The central probe agency claimed that the accused provided training to commit terrorist attacks and promote enmity between different religious communities.

PFI had condemned the raids against its members conducted by the NIA and called it a “vicious abuse of power to suppress minority rights movements,” The Indian Express had reported.

(With inputs from PTI, ANI, and The Indian Express.)

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