Abhishek Banerjee, the all India Trinamul Congress general secretary on Sunday rejected the Opposition parties’ allegations that the police are playing a biased role in failing to arrest Sandeshkali TMC leader Sheikh Shajahan.
In another major pan-India crackdown on the Popular Front of India (PFI), police along with other investigative agencies conducted raids at multiple locations across several states including Delhi on Tuesday, in which over 150 people allegedly linked to the front were arrested.
Today’s raids were in continuation of the crackdown started by the NIA and ED against the PFI on September 22.
On Tuesday, the raids were conducted in Assam, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
Delhi Police conducted overnight joint coordinated raids at multiple locations in the national capital and arrested 30 people linked with the PFI, police said today.
In the national capital, the raids were conducted in coordination along with the central investigative agency at several places including in Shaheen bagh, Nizamuddin, Rohini district and in the northeast district areas, the officials said. A total of 30 members of the group were put under preventive arrest after the police action.
According to Delhi Police, the suspects were planning a violent protest on a large scale across the city as well as a nationwide protest. Electronic devices were also seized from these locations.
Delhi Police has also imposed Section 144, in the jurisdiction of the South-East District, with effect from September 19 after receiving information that some people/groups may indulge in activities prejudicial to the maintenance of peace.
In state-wide raids in Karnataka, more than 75 PFI workers and leaders of its political wing, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) were taken into preventive custody.
“Over 75 PFI and SDPI workers and leaders have been taken into preventive custody, including the SDPI Yadgiri district president. The police raids are underway across the state. The cases have been booked under sections 108, 151 CrPC,” said Alok Kumar, ADGP Law and Order, Bengaluru.
The police conducted raids in Devanahalli, Bengaluru Rural, Chikkaballapur, Chitradurga, Raichur, Hassan, Bellary, Bagalkot, Koppal and other districts in the state.
Alok Kumar ADGP, Bengaluru said Mohmad Ismail, Raichur District ex-President of the PFI was also arrested and sent to judicial custody. Three PFI leaders were taken into custody in Mysore while two leaders were taken into custody in Chamarajanagar. Eight PFI leaders have been taken into custody including the district president in Mangalore. Four people from Hoskote, three from Chickaballapur and nine from Bengaluru rural have been taken into custody.
In Uttar Pradesh, the state’s ATS and the UP Special Task Force took more than a dozen PFI leaders into custody in raids across the state, informed police sources.
Nearly 57 people, linked to the PFI, have been arrested in raids conducted by the police, Special Task force and Anti-Terrorist Squad.
The raids were held in various locations in 26 districts across Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday.
Crackdown on the PFI continued in Maharashtra as the ATS and local police conducted raids in various parts of the state and arrested various persons linked with the organisation.
As many as 27 members of the PFI have so far been arrested in Maharashtra during the NIA raids on Tuesday, sources said.
“Raids by ATS and local police were conducted on people associated with PFI in many parts of the state,” said an ATS official.
The Thane Police informed that its crime branch has arrested four people associated with PFI.
The Nashik Police also arrested two persons linked with the organisation. Both the arrested persons will be produced before the court.
One of the two persons, identified as Mohammed Irfan who, according to the Nashik Police, was earlier booked for holding an illegal rally in May this year.
According to the local police, there were inputs that some persons, who are connected to PFI, were involved in illegal activities. Raids were conducted in Malegaon town also.
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh ATS on Tuesday detained 21 members from eight districts of the state over links with the PFI.
An official said the raids were carried out in the wee hours in eight districts, including three big cities; Bhopal, Indore and Ujjain.
“Among those detained are workers associated with PFI. Further operation is underway,” a senior police official said.
In Bhopal, the ATS conducted raids at SDPI’s (Social Democratic Party of India) office located at Shahjahanabad area late on Monday and detained one suspect for interrogation.
Persons associated with SDPI are suspected to have been funding PFI, and the ATS claimed to have recovered some documents related to the same.
In the second round, the ATS operation began on the basis of inputs from the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Notably, last Thursday, the ATS had conducted raids in Indore and Ujjain during which four PFI members were arrested.
In a fresh operation, Assam Police on Tuesday arrested 25 additional Popular Front of India (PFI) leaders and activists from eight districts.
According to officials, 10 PFI members were arrested in Goalpara, five from Kamrup, three from Dhubri, two each from Barpeta and Baksa districts, and one each from Karimganj, Udalguri, and Darang districts.
Earlier, 11 PFI activists and leaders were arrested in Assam for their alleged involvement in unlawful activities.
Among them was Minarul Shaikh, the state president of PFI in West Bengal.
Reportedly, all the 11 people are currently under police custody following a court order.
On Monday, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the police crackdown against PFI members will continue in the state, adding that cases have been lodged against the organisation’s supporters who had launched agitation and road blockade in the wake of pan-India raids.
On September 22, the NIA had arrested over 106 members of the PFI during its largest-ever raids spread across 15 states. 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 was expected 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 mobile 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”.
The PFI was launched in Kerala in 2006 after merging three Muslim organisations 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.