PFI members were trained in self-defence, facing media queries

Updated on Oct 02, 2022 12:20 AM IST

Officials said these revelations were made during rigorous interrogation of Faizan, Rehan and Dilshad, arrested by the UP STF in Lucknow on September 27

For representation only (HT File Photo)
For representation only (HT File Photo)
By, Lucknow

The recently banned Popular Front of India (PFI) was allegedly providing different types of training to members to safeguard them from the police and the media. Training was provided in small groups in different parts of the state, said officials associated with investigation agencies.

They said the new recruits in the PFI were reportedly made to attend lectures of their influencers (religious speakers). Besides, they were trained in self-defence and were made to attend human rights classes to protect them from police detention and arrests. They were also trained to answer media questions or use media houses at the time of a crisis.

The officials said these revelations were made during rigorous interrogation of Faizan, Rehan and Dilshad, arrested by the UP Special Task Force (STF) from Lucknow on September 27. They said the different types of training modules were designed for new PFI recruits—the recruitment was done by Mohd Ahmad Beg Nadvi, who is a religious speaker.

“Nadvi, who was arrested from a house in Madeyganj locality by UP STF on September 23, was the main recruiter in the state. He used to recruit youths into the PFI after influencing them through his religious speeches and narrating false story about atrocities against minorities,” an official, privy to the investigation, emphasised and added, “Nadvi has been taken in custody remand for five days by the National Investigation Agency from Saturday to interrogate him further”.

Several religious speeches of Nadvi are available on YouTube in which he can be seen influencing youths.

The official said that Rehan revealed about the self-defence training programme of PFI when interrogated about a red sign present on his hand after arrest. He said the youths were selected by their local commanders for self-defence training and providing training of Judo-Karate in small groups. A similar, self-defence training programme had been held at an orchard in a village of Bakshi Ka Talab area, which Rehan had attended, he added.

He said that PFI members were also made to learn about human rights provisions provided to Indian citizens so that they could avert arrest and avoid detention by local police. He said the members were also trained in answering media questions or using local media persons in their favour by talking about human rights. Moreover, the members were asked to make aware their family members— wife, father, mother, brother and sister— about human rights and answering media questions, in case they are arrested by the local police or other investigation agencies, he explained.

Earlier, the primary investigation by the state agencies had revealed that the PFI had spread its network to 23 districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Lucknow, in the past decade and had over 20,000 members. Moreover, the PFI office-bearers and active members were planning to contest the local bodies’ election in Uttar Pradesh on a large scale before the organisation was banned for five years by the union home ministry on September 28.

As many as 69 PFI officer-bearers and members have been arrested from different districts of the state since September 22.

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