Popular Front of India (PFI) workers hit the streets on Friday in protests in Kerala, a day after NIA and ED raids over terror links. The Kerala High Court took a suo moto case against the radical outfit after sporadic incidents of violence were reported from across the state. State buses were vandalised and cops were attacked during the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the PFI on Friday.
The stir came a day after the central probe agencies launched a massive crackdown on PFI networks across the country, leading to over 100 arrests.
When protests were underway in neighbouring Kerala, a Karnataka minister said the procedure to ban the radical outfit was underway in the state.
Here are the top developments.
1) Several incidents of vandalism and violence were reported across Kerala and stones were pelted in various districts such as Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Alappuzha as PFI workers took to the streets demanding the release of their leaders.
Windows of state buses were broken and police were attacked when they attempted to detain the workers. Local media reported that a petrol bomb was hurled at a vehicle which was carrying newspapers for distribution at Narayanpara in Kannur.
2) A two-member group also hurled a petrol bomb at an RSS office in Kannur and broke the window panes. Yesterday night, similar attacks on RSS and BJP offices were reported in Tamil Nadu as well.
3) In Erattupetta town of Kottayam district, police had to resort to lathi-charge to disperse PFI workers when they tried to block vehicles after gathering in large numbers, closed shops and threatened people who were travelling in private vehicles.
4) When the protests continued, the Kerala High Court took a suo moto case against the PFI, saying that it had banned forced shutdowns in the state. The high court asked the state government to take strict action against PFI for violating its order.
The high court had in January said that no organisation can call a protest shutdown in the state without a seven-day notice.
5) Kerala BJP chief K Surendran lashed out at the Left government, claiming there is a total breakdown of law and order in the state.
Strongly condemn the widespread attack on the general public by PFI terrorists. These anti-national elements attacked even police officers,pilgrimage vehicles, KSRTC buses. Why @TheKeralaPolice not taking stringent action against the perpetrators? Is it a state-sponsored hartal?— K Surendran (@surendranbjp) September 23, 2022
"The PFI criminals have resorted to massive violence in the name of harthal. They attacked KSRTC buses, forcefully shut shops and disrupted Mookambika pilgrimage while Kerala police remain silent spectators. There is a total breakdown of law and order situation in Kerala," he said in a tweet.
6) As protests were underway in Kerala, Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said the process to ban the radical outfits in the state is already underway. The minister said 18 places were searched yesterday and 15 people were picked up for questioning. Seven people were arrested by the NIA, he said.
7) Popular Front of India (PFI) describes itself as an organisation that works towards the achievement of socio-economic, culture and political empowerment of the deprived. However, PFI has been under the central agency scanner for promoting radical Islam and recruiting for terror outfits.
8) The NIA on Thursday raided the premises linked to PFI in several states. Over 100 top PFI leaders and functionaries have been arrested in a massive crackdown on terror. PFI chairman OMA Salam and Delhi chief Parvez Ahmed were among those arrested.
9) Reacting to the raids and arrests, PFI General secretary Obeydulla Noori said the group will not be scared and will continue protests until all its leaders are released.
10) Meanwhile, Minarul Sheikh, West Bengal president of PFI was arrested by Assam Police from Delhi on Friday. He has been booked in a Special Operations Unit (SOU) case under various sections of the IPC relating to sedition, criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and assault to deter public servants from discharge of duty.