New Delhi, September 22
In a major crackdown against the Popular Front of India (PFI), the NIA and the ED today conducted raids at 93 locations across 15 states and arrested 106 leaders and activists of the outfit for allegedly supporting terror activities.
Sources said the post-midnight crackdown was closely monitored by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval as later in the day Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a high-level review meeting with top officials. It is believed that the situation arising out of the action against the terror suspects was discussed. Besides Doval, the meeting was attended by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, NIA Director General Dinkar Gupta and other top officials.
In near-simultaneous raids, the multi-agency operation was the “largest-ever investigation process till date”, said officials. The maximum arrests were made in Kerala (22), followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka with 20 each, Tamil Nadu (10), Assam (nine), Uttar Pradesh (eight), Andhra Pradesh (five), Madhya Pradesh (four), Puducherry and Delhi (three each) and Rajasthan (two). The officials said PFI chairman OMA Salam was arrested from Kerala where the outfit has strong pockets.
The crackdown sparked an angry response from the PFI. It condemned the action saying it would “never surrender” and alleged that the “claims made by the establishment were aimed at creating an atmosphere of terror”. The outfit has called for a dawn-to-dusk strike in Kerala on Friday and termed the arrest of its leaders as part of “state-sponsored terrorism”. Several Muslim organisations appealed to the youth from the community to remain patient on the action taken by the law enforcement agencies.
The ED has been investigating the PFI’s alleged financial links with the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests in the country, 2020 Delhi riots, alleged conspiracy in Hathras in Uttar Pradesh over “gang-rape” and death of a Dalit woman and a few other incidents.
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