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106 PFI members held in NIA, ED raids across 11 states

Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a high level meeting with top officials to review the situation.

SNS | Thiruvananthapuram |

In joint pan-India raids at about 100 locations in 15 states, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED), and state police forces on Thursday arrested a total of 106 cadres of the Popular Front of India ((PFI), a radical organisation, sources said on Thursday.

The NIA conducted raids on PFI at 93 locations in 15 states-Kerala (39), Tamil Nadu (16), Karnataka (12), Andhra Pradesh (7), Telangana (1), UP (2), Rajasthan (4), Delhi (2), Assam (1), MP (1), Maharashtra (4) Goa (1), West Bengal (1), Bihar (1) and Manipur (1), the sources said.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a meeting with officials in connection with raids by the NIA on the premises linked to the PFI.

The National Security Advisor (NSA), Ajit Doval, the Home Secretary, Ajay Kumar Bhalla, the Director General of NIA, Dinkar Gupta and the Director of Intelligence Bureau of India, Tapan Deka were among those present in the meeting with Shah.

The raids spread over 10 states and involving the NIA, the ED and state police forces have been described by the agency as the largest such investigation till date against terror funding suspects.

The searches were conducted at multiple locations in the largest ever investigation process till date. The operation started late in the night around 1 am and learnt to be concluded by 5 am involving over 1,500 personnel of state police, Central Armed Police Forces and officers of NIA and ED.

Several incriminating documents, more than 100 bile phones, laptops and other materials have been seized by the raiding teams.

These searches were conducted at the residential and official premises of persons involved in “funding terrorism, organising training camps and radicalising people to join proscribed organisations”.

“In a major action across 10 states, NIA, ED and state police have arrested more than 100 cadres of PFI,” sources said earlier today.

Meanwhile, more than 50 members of the PFI protested against the raids outside the party office in the Dindigul district earlier today.

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 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.

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”.

The PFI was launched in Kerala in 2006 after merging three Muslim organizations floated after the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 – the National Development Front of Kerala, Karnataka Forum for Dignity and Manitha Neethi Pasari of Tamil Nadu. After the demolition of the Babri mosque, many fringe outfits had surfaced in south India and PFI was formed after merging some of them.

The PFI on Thursday, while condemning the raids by the NIA and the ED against its leaders, stated that it will “never surrender” and alleged that the agency’s claims are aimed at “creating an atmosphere of terror”.

Issuing a statement against the raids, PFI’s National Executive Council (NEC) on Thursday said, “NEC has condemned the national wide 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 added.

It said that the Front will “never ever surrender” on the action taken by a “totalitarian regime”.

“Popular Front will never ever surrender on any scary action by a totalitarian regime using the central agencies as its puppets and will stand firm on its will for recovering the democratic system and spirit of the constitution of our beloved country,” the statement said.