New Delhi: Over 100 activists of the Popular Front of India (PFI) were arrested on Thursday in raids by multi-agency teams led by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) across several states for alleged support to terror activities in the country. National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate and the state police forces jointly carried out coordinated searches at the houses and offices of the PFI leaders and members across India on Thursday.
It was the largest-ever investigation process till date against the PFI and 106 functionaries of the front were arrested. Searches were conducted at 93 locations in 15 states of India on Thursday. The states where the raids were conducted included Andhra Pradesh (4 places), Telangana (1), Delhi (19), Kerala (11), Karnataka (8), Tamil Nadu (3), Uttar Pradesh (1), Rajasthan (2), Hyderabad (5), Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, Bihar and Manipur. The searches were conducted in connection with five cases registered by the NIA following ‘continued inputs and evidence’ that the PFI leaders and cadres were involved in the funding of terrorism and terrorist activities, organising training camps for providing armed training and radicalising people to join banned organisations.
The PFI was launched in Kerala in 2006. A large number of criminal cases have been registered in different states over the last few years against the PFI and its leaders and members for their involvement in many violent acts. Criminal violent acts ‘carried out’ by PFI include 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. They have had a demonstrative effect of striking terror in the minds of the citizens. During the searches conducted this morning, incriminating documents, cash, sharp-edged weapons and a large number of digital devices have been seized. The NIA has made 45 arrests in these cases.
Earlier in the day when the NIA conducted the raids, they found several incriminating documents, more than 100 mobile phones and laptops. The PFI and SDPI workers staged a protest in Karnataka’s Mangaluru against the raids, following which they were detained by the state police. PFI workers sat on the road in protest against the NIA raid at the party office in Chennai. NIA earlier this month also raided 40 places in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh in a PFI case and detained four persons. The agency then conducted searches at 38 locations in Telangana (23 in Nizamabad, four in Hyderabad, seven in Jagityal, two in Nirmal, one each in Adilabad and Karimnagar districts) and at two locations in Andhra Pradesh (one each in Kurnool and Nellore districts) in the case relating to Abdul Khader of Nizamabad district in Telangana and 26 other persons.
In the operation, NIA had seized incriminating materials, including digital devices, documents, two daggers and Rs 8,31,500 cash. As per NIA, the accused were ‘organizing camps for imparting training to commit terrorist acts and to promote enmity between different groups on the basis of religion’. In its response, Popular Front of India’s national executive council condemned the raids by the NIA and ED ‘and the unjust arrests and the harassments of its national and state leaders across India and the witch-hunting against the members, and supporters of the organization’. ‘NIA’s baseless claims and sensationalism are solely aimed at creating an atmosphere of terror’, it said and added that the front will ‘never ever surrender’ on the action taken by a ‘totalitarian regime’. Several incriminating documents, more than 100 mobile phones, laptops and other materials have been seized by the raiding teams.
The PFI and SDPI workers staged a protest in Karnataka’s Mangaluru against the raids, following which they were detained by the state police. PFI workers sat on the road in protest against the NIA raid at the party office in Chennai. The National Investigation Agency on Thursday sealed the Telangana PFI head office in Chandrayangutta, Hyderabad in connection with a case registered earlier by the agency. In Mumbai, Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested five suspects related to the Popular Front of India (PFI) on Thursday. The suspects were arrested from Panvel, Bhiwandi, Malad, Kandivali and Kurla area. They were booked under sections 120B, 121-A,153-A of IPC and UAPA Act. They were produced in court.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) court of Delhi on Thursday sent 18 persons of the Popular Front of India (PFI), arrested from different parts of the country in a multi-agency operation led by the NIA, to a four-day remand. The 18 accused were produced in NIA court under heavy security. All were produced before the NIA Judge Shailendra Malik. The court sent them to a four-day remand. According to the NIA, 19 arrests had been made in connection with an FIR registered in Delhi. Apart from the 18 produced in court, one more accused from Karnataka and is being brought on transit remand.
According to the NIA, all the accused would be kept in four different police stations. Moreover, NIA has told the court that neither FIR nor the remand copy would be given to the accused persons owing to the national security risk involved. ‘Investigation is preliminary, and more remand might be needed later. The investigation is sensitive in nature and more people are likely to be identified’, said the NIA. NIA earlier this month also raided 40 places in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh in a PFI case and detained four persons. The agency had then conducted searches at 38 locations in Telangana (23 in Nizamabad, four in Hyderabad, seven in Jagityal, two in Nirmal, one each in Adilabad and Karimnagar districts) and at two locations in Andhra Pradesh (one each in Kurnool and Nellore districts) in the case relating to Abdul Khader of Nizamabad district in Telangana and 26 other persons.