A total of 106 Popular Front of India (PFI) cadres were arrested on Thursday in a joint operation conducted by the National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate and state police forces across 11 states in the country’s multiple locations, sources said on Thursday.
Among the states where the raids were conducted include Andhra Pradesh (5), Assam (9), Delhi (3), Karnataka (20), Kerala (22), Madhya Pradesh (4), Maharashtra (20), Puducherry (3), Rajasthan (2), Tamil Nadu (10) and Uttar Pradesh (8).
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 told media 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.