PFI calls for Kerala bandh today to protest raids, arrests by NIA

Updated on Sep 23, 2022 12:03 AM IST

In a statement, the PFI said the arrest of its top leaders was “part of terror unleashed by an oppressive regime controlled by the RSS”.

The Popular Front of India (PFI) on Thursday called for a Kerala shutdown on Friday, as members of the controversial Islamist group protested across the state against the pre-dawn raids and arrests of its 22 key leaders by central agencies led by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) over alleged terror activities. (PTI)
The Popular Front of India (PFI) on Thursday called for a Kerala shutdown on Friday, as members of the controversial Islamist group protested across the state against the pre-dawn raids and arrests of its 22 key leaders by central agencies led by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) over alleged terror activities. (PTI)
By, Thiruvananthapuram

The Popular Front of India (PFI) on Thursday called for a Kerala shutdown on Friday, as members of the controversial Islamist group protested across the state against the pre-dawn raids and arrests of its 22 key leaders by central agencies led by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) over alleged terror activities.

In a statement, the PFI said the arrest of its top leaders was “part of terror unleashed by an oppressive regime controlled by the RSS”.

“Our strike is to protest fascist measures of the RSS-controlled regime. We expect support from all democratic forces,” stated the statement issued by PFI state secretary A Abubaker.

PFI leaders said some public relations documents seized from their offices were dubbed as secret documents. In view of the shutdown call, the government has beefed up security in the state and warned of strict action if anyone breaks the law and incites trouble.

Earlier in the day, a joint team of NIA and ED swooped down on offices and houses of PFI leaders in 10 districts and arrested many leaders and seized documents. At several places, angry activists tried to disrupt the raid, but the CRPF personnel foiled their attempts.

In Malappuram and Erattupetta in Kottayam, CRPF personnel carried out baton charges to disburse angry PFI activists. A big posse of CRPF men accompanied the NIA team as state police were allegedly kept in the dark at many places.

According to people aware of the development, during the countrywide raids, maximum 22 arrests were made in Kerala. Among arrested are PFI ideologue P Koya, national chairman OMA Salam, national secretary Nasaruddin Elamarom and state president CP Mohammad Basheer.

They said the arrested will be taken to Delhi after procuring transit warrants. Charges against them include terror funding, sending youth to trouble-torn areas, fanning trouble in different parts of country and inciting violence, they said.

While the BJP has hailed the action, others are yet to react. “How can a terror outfit call a strike? The government should take action against those who enforce it,” said BJP state president K Surendran.

As news of early morning searches surfaced, PFI workers assembled in large numbers before offices and took out marches at several places raising slogans against the Centre and its investigating agencies. However, central forces deployed in large numbers to ensure security to the raiding team blocked them.

Rallies were carried out in almost all district HQs including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Thrissur. “The searches were mainly carried out in offices of PFI state and district committees and the houses of our office-bearers. Some publicity materials were seized and now they are being shown as secret documents,” a PFI official said, adding that the group will withstand intimidation tactics of the union government.

Local media reported that all arrested from various parts of the state were taken to Kochi and later they will be flown to Delhi after transit warrants.

The house of a Thrissur-based leader of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), political wing of the PFI, was also raided, the outfit’s state president Ashraf Maulavi said. Talking to newsmen in Thrissur, he said those who believe and act in accordance with the Constitution of the country should expect such fascist move against them in the RSS-ruled India.

“Through such deeds, the Centre is actually indulging in anti-constitutional activities. The public should raise its voice against such practices to protect the country,” he said, adding that central investigating agencies were trying to create a smoke screen against the outfits which have been functioning in a democratic manner and legal steps would be taken against such acts.

He reiterated that those documents, reportedly seized during the raids, were only public relations stuff used by the outfits for its campaign.

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