In a major crackdown on the Popular Front of India (PFI), the National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted raids at eight places in Tamil Nadu in the early hours on Thursday.
NIA conducted searches at in the Madurai city area including Villapuram, Gomatipuram, and Kulamangalam.
More than 50 members of the PFI are protesting against the raids outside the party office in the Dindigul district.
The raids are also being conducted against the PFI across 10 states in the country by the NIA and the ED, in which over 100 leaders were arrested, according to the sources on Thursday.
The searches are being conducted at multiple locations in the largest ever investigation process till date including Purnia in Bihar, and several locations linked to PFI across Maharashtra.
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.
These searches are being 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.
The raids were conducted in Telangana, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and many more states, said sources.
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.