Process to ban PFI has begun, says Karnataka minister day after pan-India NIA raids

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra has stated that the procedure to impose a ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) has begun, adding that the central government is taking time.

Process to ban PFI has begun, says K'taka minister as violent stir rocks Kerala after NIA raids
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, Karnataka (Photo: PTI)

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra has stated that the procedure to impose a ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) has begun, adding that the central government is taking time.

On Thursday, Karnataka police launched searches at 18 places as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) launched a massive crackdown on the PFI over alleged terror funding.

"As many as 15 people were picked up for questioning and seven people were arrested by the NIA. FIRs have been registered and further investigation is going on. Even our police had registered FIR and a probe is underway," he said.

The NIA, the Enforcement Directorate and Karnataka police on Thursday conducted raids in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Kalaburagi and Shivamogga and arrested seven office- bearers of the PFI.

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People gathered in front of the house of the PFI leader in Mangaluru and staged a protest and were detained. More than 50 PFI workers were detained in Hubli as they protested against the ongoing raids against PFI. The workers gathered at Dakkappa circle around noon, raised slogans against NIA and the BJP government while trying to block the road.

According to a PFI release, raids were conducted at the homes of national state and local leaders.The houses of Kavoor resident and PFI leader Nawaz, A K Ashraf of Jokatte, Moideen from Haleyangady and Kankanady resident Ashraf have been raided, it said.

When asked about the PayCM posters, the BJP leader said, "This shows the cruel mindset of their party (Congress). They don't have any issues to do direct politics. They are doing some kind of gimmick and maligning the image. By doing this, they believe they can grow. But the people of Karnataka will teach them a lesson."

The Congress in Karnataka started its campaign to target Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai by pasting the 'PayCM' posters. The PayCM QR code bearing the photograph of the Chief Minister gets directed to a website - '40% Sarkara' - accusing the Bommai-led BJP government was charging 40 per cent commission on public works.

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NIA said the arrests were part of its operations, including searches at 93 locations in 15 states - Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, Bihar and Manipur.

The searches were conducted at the houses and offices of top PFI leaders and members in connection with five cases registered by the NIA following continued inputs and evidence that they were involved in funding of terrorism and terrorist activities, organising camps to provide arms training and radicalising people to join banned organisations.

The NIA said: "Criminal and violent acts carried out by the PFI such as chopping off the hand of a college professor, cold-blooded killings of persons associated 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 citizens."

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