93 locations raided in 15 states, 106 arrested: Pan-India crackdown on PFI

On Thursday, law-enforcement agencies conducted searches against PFI at 93 locations across India, leading to arrest of 106 activists.

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93 locations raided in 15 states, 106 arrested: Pan-India crackdown on PFI
A security person keeps vigil outside the Popular Front of India (PFI) party office in Navi Mumbai. (PTI Photo)

The Popular Front of India (PFI) is facing a possible ban after law-enforcement agencies conducted searches at 93 locations across 15 states in the country on Thursday. The Enforcement Directorate (ED), the National Investigation Agency (NIA), and the State Police forces across India conducted raids at several locations of PFI for its alleged involvement in terror activities.

The multi-agency operation led to the arrest of 106 activists of the Popular Front of India. Here are the top developments as pan-India crackdown on PFI was undertaken on Thursday:

MULTI-AGENCY CRACKDOWN ON PFI

On Thursday, law-enforcement agencies conducted searches against PFI at 93 locations in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, Bihar and Manipur.

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The searches were conducted at the houses and offices of the top PFI leaders and members in connection with five cases registered by the NIA over the radical outfit’s alleged involvement in terror-related activists. PFI has been accused of being involved in funding of terrorism and terrorist activities, organising training camps for providing armed training and radicalising people to join banned organisations.

A large number of criminal cases have been registered by different states over the last few years against the PFI and its leaders and members for their alleged involvement in many violent acts, including chopping off the hand of a college professor, cold blooded killings of persons associated with organisations espousing the 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.

WHY WAS THE RAID CARRIED?

Recently, the home ministry was alerted by the Central Agencies that PFI was covertly mobilising funds through well- organized network in Gulf countries as part of criminal conspiracy, sources said.

The proceeds of crime were secretly and clandestinely sent to India through underground and illegal channels and through foreign remittances into the bank accounts of sympathizers, office bearers, members and their relatives along with associates in India, sources added. These funds were later transferred to the bank accounts of PFI, RIF and other individuals and entities.

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The funds were found to have been placed, layered and integrated and therefore projected as untainted money in the bank accounts of PFI as well as RIF.

This was being done as a part of a larger criminal conspiracy of PFI and its related entities to raise funds within the country and abroad to carry out various unlawful activities which

INCRIMINATING DOCUMENTS RECOVERED, ARRESTS MADE

The law enforcement agencies recovered incriminating documents, cash, sharp edged weapons and a large number of digital devices during raids. The NIA has made 45 arrests in these cases. While 19 accused have been arrested from Kerala, 11 have been arrested from Tamil Nadu, 7 from Karnataka, 4 from Andhra Pradesh, 2 from Rajasthan, 1 each from UP and Telangana.

As on date, the NIA is investigating a total of 19 PFI related cases.

A Delhi court on Thursday sent 18 activists of the Popular Front of India (PFI), arrested from different parts of the country in a multi-agency operation led by the NIA, to four days' custodial interrogation for allegedly supporting terror activities.

WHAT PFI SAID

PFI accused the Centre of using agencies to “silence dissenting voices”.

PFI leader A Abdul Sattar, “The latest example of atrocities by the state is the midnight raid by central agencies NIA and ED in the houses of popular front leaders in the state. The raids are taking place at the houses of national, state and local level leaders. The state committee office is also being raided. Strongly protest the fascist regime's moves to use agencies to silence dissenting voices.”

PFI CALLS FOR HARTAL

Protests erupted across several cities in India against the raids on PFI. In Thiruvananthapuram, the PFI workers blocked highway, leading to clash between workers and police personnel. In Hubballi, PFI and SDPI supporters protested against NIA raids and raised slogans against the agency. The police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd.

The nationwide raids sparked an angry response from the PFI which called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Kerala on Friday and termed the arrest of its leaders as a part of "state-sponsored terrorism".

"A hartal will be observed in the state on September 23 against the RSS-controlled fascist government's attempt to silence dissenting voices using the central agencies," A Abdul Sathar, PFI's state general secretary, said.

(With inputs from Jitendar Singh Bahadur, Sagay Raj, Shibimol)

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