Uttar Pradesh ATS arrest 6 PFI members from Meerut, Varanasi
Ten PFI office bearers and active members have been arrested in the past three days from four districts of Uttar Pradesh
The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) arrested six office bearers and active members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) from Meerut and Varanasi on Saturday, officials said.
The arrests happened two days after the anti-terror raids by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on PFI premises across the country.
The ATS official said those arrested from Meerut included Mohammed Sahadab Aziz Qasmi, Maulana Sajid, both residents of Shamli, Mufti Sehzad of Ghaziabad and Mohammed Islam Qasmi of Muzaffarnagar. He said those arrested from Varanasi were identified as Rizwan Ahmad of Jaitpura and Mohammed Shahid of Alampura area.
ATS additional director general (ADG) Naveen Arora said those arrested are accused of working on anti-national agenda of the PFI and other extremist Muslim organisations with an intention to make India an Islamic nation by 2047. He said they were involved in spreading anti-national agenda and incite violence during protests against government schemes and decisions.
He said the charges under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 121-A (waging war against the country), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion and race), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 505 (2) (making statements conducing to public mischief) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) have been slapped against them. Besides, section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) was also invoked against them.
Earlier, during NIA raids related to some specific cases, one Wasim Ahmad was arrested from Indira Nagar area in Lucknow on Thursday while three others were arrested from Barabanki and Lucknow on Friday.
UP Special Task Force (STF) on Friday lodged a first information report (FIR) against three persons in Barabanki district for having links with the PFI and working on the outfit’s ‘anti-national’ agendas and arrested two persons. Those named in the FIR are Wasim Ahmad, Mohd Nadeem Ansari alias Munna and Mohd Kamruddin alias Bablu.
Wasim was said to be arrested from Indira Nagar in Lucknow during the NIA crackdown on Thursday. Similarly, the two others were also taken to police custody on Thursday and later arrested on Friday from Kursi police station of Barabanki. The two others were identified as Kamruddin, said to be the district president of the PFI, and Mohd Nadeem Ansari, who is a law student and alleged treasurer of the PFI-Barabanki unit.
Besides, one Ahmad Beg Nadwi, who is said to be a motivational speaker of the PFI, was arrested from Lucknow’s Madeyganj on Friday. He was accused of generating funds for violence and anti-national activities from Gulf countries. He even contested Vidhan Sabha elections earlier this year as a candidate of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) from Qaiserganj constituency of Bahraich.
On Thursday, in a coordinated operation, NIA, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and state police forces carried out simultaneous raids on PFI premises in 15 states and one Union territory. NIA by itself raided 93 locations with 300 officers and arrested 45 PFI leaders and cadres, including some of its top leadership.
The agencies have levelled a slew of charges against the PFI in their remand reports submitted to multiple courts in India on Thursday, ranging from allegations of “conspiring to establish Islamic rule by committing terrorist acts as part of violent jihad”, creating enmity between different groups, encouraging Muslim youth to join terrorist organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, to collecting funds through underground channels. NIA has also claimed that documents recovered during the raids suggest that PFI had a “hit list” to target “prominent leaders of a particular community”.
The PFI has consistently denied these allegations, and reiterated its position on Thursday by describing the action as a “witch-hunt”. PFI members on Friday damaged buses and shops, attacked policemen and hurled crude bombs in violent clashes in Kerala and Tamil Nadu following Thursday’s nationwide raids, prompting the Kerala high court to initiate suo motu proceedings.