Kerala Police crackdown on PFI continues, arrests 1,500 for Friday’s violence
A Kerala Police officer said a decision has been taken to issue lookout notices against PFI Kerala general secretary A Abdul Sattar and spokesperson CA Rouf
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Police have decided to issue lookout notices against A Abdul Sattar and CA Rouf, the two functionaries of the Popular Front of India (PFI) in the state in connection with a case registered against them for Friday’s hartal in the state that led to widespread violence. The state has arrested nearly 1,500 people in connection with the violence and is continuing raids on houses and business establishments linked to the outfit.
A Abdul Sattar issued the hartal, or shutdown call, which led to violence on Friday, prompting the Kerala high court to order the state police to file a case against the PFI for its illegal hartal against last week’s raids on the outfit by teams of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). A senior police officer said many business establishments were raided in Kannur and Kozhikode districts on Monday and the number of people to be arrested in the context of the violence will rise.
During the bandh, 70 government buses were damaged and many drivers and passengers injured, bombs were hurled at several places, shops and business establishments were forcibly closed and many people were hurt in stone pelting. Later chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said most of these attacks were well-planned and warned strict action against perpetrators.
The crackdown by the state police comes at a time when NIA and ED are investigating the outfit and its funding. According to NIA, the PFI, which runs a newspaper, Thejas, in Kerala, used its mouthpiece to raise funds abroad, particularly from countries in the west Asia region. In its applications to the court to seek remand of the accused, NIA has alleged that an Abu Dhabi restaurant owned by MK Ashraf was alleged to be channelling funds for PFI to India. Ashraf was named as an accused in a palm chopping case of a retired teacher TJ Joseph but he wasn’t tried in this case due to insufficient evidence.
ED officials have claimed that the PFI was getting funds from abroad and more than ₹120 crore was believed to have been sent to PFI through various channels.
Central agencies are also looking at possible PFI links to Sathya Sarani, a religious school in Manjeri in the Malappuram district, which is run by a charitable trust by people who also lead the outfit.
Out of 19 PFI leaders arrested from Kerala last week, NIA sought remand for 10 and some of them have been taken to Delhi on transit orders issued by the court.
NIA officials have told the Kochi court that most of those arrested were not cooperating with the agency.