In a major pan-India crackdown on “radical” Muslim outfit Popular Front of India, coordinated searches were conducted by National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and local police at the premises of top leaders of the outfit across 15 states and as many as 110 leaders and activists were arrested for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country.
The arrested include PFI chairman OMA Salam, Vice-Chairman E M Abdul Rahiman, National Secretary V P Nazarudheen Elamaram, Kerala state chief C P Mohammad Basheer, National Council member Prof P Koya and SDPI founder president E Abubacker. All these arrested leaders – of which Abubacker, Abdur Rahiman and Koya were senior office-bearers of Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) before it was banned - were produced in the NIA special court in Delhi, after being brought there on transit remand.
NIA alone organised searches at 93 locations and arresting 45 PFI leaders and activists. The raids followed inputs and evidence that they were involved in funding of terrorism and terrorist activities, organising training camps for providing armed training and radicalising people to join banned organisations.
The countrywide swoop on PFI leaders and cadres, the largest ever by NIA involving around 300 officers, who literally stayed up the night to start the raids as early as 3.30 am, followed a series of strategy meetings chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah to review the cases and evidence against the outfits and its brass. PFI condemned the raids and “unjust” arrests and accused NIA and ED of engaging in a witch hunt against its members and supporters. PFI said that “Popular Front will never be intimidated by such scare tactics by a totalitarian regime that uses the central agencies as its puppets.”
Hartal in Kerala turns violent
Kerala police took 551 people into custody after a protest called by PFI led widespread violence and damage to public property, prompting Kerala high court to call the “flash hartal” illegal and ask the government to confront lawbreakers with an iron fist. As many as 13 shops, 70 state-run buses and two Tamil Nadu government buses were damaged by rampaging mobs in 217 reported attacks on properties, vehicles and citizens during the dawn-to dusk statewide protest, police said. They said 10 KSRTC employees, including eight drivers, and six cops were wounded.
Of those arrested in 311 cases registered so far, most were in Kollam city (164), where cops reported protesters ramming two policemen on duty with a bike, besides other crimes. Also, some 400 people were taken into preventive detention, with Malappuram (126) recording the highest, followed by Kannur city (86).