Will never surrender to actions of totalitarian regime: PFI on raids

PFI members protesting against NIA raids | Picture: The Quint

At least 100 people linked to the Popular Front of India (PFI) were arrested following searches by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with anti-terror activities.

Muhammad Raafi | TwoCircles.net 

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NEW DELHI — Top agencies of the country on Thursday conducted nationwide raids in at least 10 states and arrested 100 people of the People’s Front of India (PFI) even as Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a meeting with NSA Ajit Doval and other top officials.

The raids were conducted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) early morning in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and the national capital. PFI Chairman OMA Salam and Delhi PFI chief Parvez Ahmed were arrested. The raids were conducted in the residential and official premises of persons allegedly involved in “funding terrorism”.

Activists of the PFI staged protests across Kerala against the raids. Police detained PFI workers in Kannur after they tried to block a road to protest against the NIA raids. A protest march was carried out by PFI members in Kerala’s Malappuram. PFI members also blocked the road in Kollam.

In Andhra Pradesh’s Karnool district, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) activists raised ‘NIA go back’ slogans to protest against the NIA raid at the residence of its leader in Kurnool district.

Condemning the NIA crackdowns, PFI said, “The Popular Front of India’s National Executive Council (NEC) has condemned the nationwide raids by the NIA & ED and the unjust arrests and the harassment of its National and state leaders across India and the witch-hunting against the members, and supporters of the organisation. 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,” it added.

MK Faizy, National President of the Social Democratic Party of India slammed the raids in the residences and offices of the Popular Front of India, and the arrest of its leaders in the wee hours today.

“The nationwide raids in the residences of leaders are the affirmative sign of efforts to stifle the dissenting voices. In the past few years in which the mainstream political parties have become mute about the fascist atrocities in the country, it has been the Popular Front of India and the Social Democratic Party of India that have taken up the role of the opposition in challenging the undemocratic, divisive politics of the Hindutva fascists that leads the country into peril,” he said.

State President of SDPI, Ashraf Moulvi, said it shows the weakness of the RSS. They are denying secularism and imposing fascist agendas on the public. The RSS & Central Government are trying to impose their ideas. They believe in an extreme Hindu nation,” Ashraf Moulvi, State President SDPI said. He said the party is planning to protest massively. We haven’t decided on the measures yet.

In Maharashtra, the Anti-Terrorism Squad sealed the Aurangabad office of PFI and seized laptops and phones. The ATS arrested 20 people linked to PFI across the state. Raids were carried out at multiple places across the state and laptops and phones were seized. Four offences have been registered in Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad and Nanded in various sections of IPC and UAPA for indulging in unlawful activities promoting enmity amongst communities and for conspiring to wage war against the state. “So far, twenty accused connected with PFI have been arrested. An investigation is going on.”

Former Uttar Pradesh DGP Brijlal told India Today that PFI is a dangerous organisation which is active in more than 10 states in the country and they are directly related to Pakistan. “They have a direct link with the Indian Mujahideen, which is responsible for many big blasts across the country, which are being spread in the country through terror funding. PFI receives money from Arab and Gulf countries.”

In Bengaluru, the searches were carried out at the PFI State Head office, SK Garden and PFI office in Frazer town. PFI office in Frazer town, Bengaluru has been sealed after the raids.

CPI leader Sitaram Yechury said, “Why are these raids being conducted? Govt should tell us. NIA doing raids which is okay, but what is the threat that the govt should tell us. What is that threat which nobody knows? The government should give us clarity.”

Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) in a statement said that the nationwide crackdown on members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) is another instance of the government abusing the power of investigating agencies to clamp down on dissent. “We appeal to all citizens who care about their freedoms to speak out against such wanton abuse of power.”

Muhammad Raafi is a journalist based in New Delhi. He covers politics and human rights. He tweets at @MohammadRaafi