NIA investigates Tamil Nadu outfit over ‘links with IS’
NIA’s move came on the directions of the Centre after one Sathik Batcha, a resident of Needur in Tamil Nadu, and four of his associates were arrested in February this year, officials familiar with the matter said. Batcha, also known as Saddiq Basha, is a covert sympathiser of the IS ideology
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has launched an investigation against members of Tamil Nadu-based organisation Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP), which merged with Popular Front of India (PFI) in 2006, for allegedly trying to float anti-national organisations and having links with Islamic State (IS).
The anti-terror probe agency’s move came on the directions of the Centre after one Sathik Batcha, a resident of Needur in Tamil Nadu, and four of his associates were arrested in February this year, officials familiar with the matter said.
Batcha, also known as Saddiq Basha, is a covert sympathiser of the IS ideology and was allegedly actively involved in various anti-national activities. He and his associates – Mohammed Ashiq, Mohammad Irfan, Jagabar Ali and Rahmath, all from Tamil Nadu, were travelling in a vehicle along Needur main road on February 21 when they were stopped by police. Basha, who was carrying an air pistol, threatened to shoot but was eventually overpowered and arrested along with his aides, the officials added.
While the five people were initially booked under the Arms Act and for criminal intimidation and rioting, they were later charged under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
During the course of investigation, it was learnt that Basha and his associates were in the process of forming anti-national organisations, namely ‘Khilafah Party of India’, ‘Khilafah Front of India’, ‘Student Party of India’ and ‘Intellectual Students of India (ISI)’ with an aim to further the activities of the IS in India, one of the officials cited above said on condition of anonymity.
Fearing that the case could have ramifications on national security, the Centre decided to hand over the case to the NIA, the officer added.
The agency will question the accused about their association with PFI members, a second officer said on condition of anonymity.
HT reached out to PFI for a comment on the matter but did not get one immediately.
The outfit, on several occasions in the past, has complained of being targeted by central agencies without any evidence.
Last month, PFI leader M K Ashraf was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a money laundering probe, an action which was dubbed by PFI as “part of witch hunt” by the government.
Primarily based in Kerala, PFI is a successor of National Democratic Front (NDF) which was formed following the political clashes in Kozhikode in 1989.
According to a 19-page dossier by the NIA on PFI, a copy of which HT has seen, a few martial arts training centres were set up Kozhikode where Muslim youth were taught ‘Kalari Payattu’, Karate and Kung Fu, among others. The NDF had taken shape from such centres, it said.
However, the demolition of the Babri Masjid provided a required impetus to Muslim organisations in Kerala, to form resistance groups in order to meet challenges from Sangh Parivar groups, it added.
The dossier also said that most of the founding members of NDF are former members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), who wanted an effective platform for their radical ideology.
The formation of PFI was first announced on November 9, 2006 in Bengaluru. Having strong presence in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, it is also spread to Manipur, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Its leadership claims it is present in 23 states.