Row erupts over Kerala fire officials training PFI men

Published on Apr 03, 2022 12:20 AM IST

Leader of opposition V D Satheesan and Bharatiya Janata Party state president K Surendran sought strict action against the officials.

A senior official said the government viewed the issue seriously. “It is a serious issue. The government will take appropriate action after going through the report of the DGP,” he said. (HT Photo)
A senior official said the government viewed the issue seriously. “It is a serious issue. The government will take appropriate action after going through the report of the DGP,” he said. (HT Photo)
By, Thiruvananthapuram

A controversy has erupted in Kerala after senior officials of the fire and rescue department were seen giving training to workers of Popular Front of India (PFI) in Aluva, Ernakulam last Wednesday. The incident came to light after photos of the training session went viral on social media.

Leader of opposition V D Satheesan and Bharatiya Janata Party state president K Surendran sought strict action against the officials.

“Kerala Fire & Rescue Service gave training to the members of the radical Islamic outfit Popular Front of India. PFI and SDPI are involved in several terrorist activities. The @vijayanpinarayi govt is giving a red carpet for these Jihadi forces. @AmitShah Ji,” Surendran tweeted.

Satheesan said the ruling front was appeasing extremist elements in both, minority and majority communities. “It is a serious issue. We need a high-level probe into this,” he said in Kochi.

A senior official said the government viewed the issue seriously. “It is a serious issue. The government will take appropriate action after going through the report of the DGP,” he said.

OnThursday, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government sought a report from the DGP of the fire force B Sandhya on the incident. In her report submitted on saturday, Sandhya said it was a lapse on the part of the force and recommended action against five officials, including the regional head of the force. She also said that the decision to train the PFI workers was taken locally, and superior officials were not informed about it, people aware of the developments said.

However, senior officials said it was not a PFI training session but a function organised by the outfit on a life-saving mission in the town hall in Aluva. It was there, upon request from the crowd, that the officials shared tips on rescue and relief operations and demonstrated the same.

The PFI issued a clarification on the incident, saying that it was blown out of proportion by some people with “ulterior motives”.

“We have some trained cadres to deal with natural disasters, and their contribution during the 2018 floods was lauded by all. We invited some officials as part of our function like many other organisations do. But it was blown out of proportion by some forces, including the BJP,” said PFI spokesman V A Rouf.

The PFI is a fundamentalist outfit founded in Kerala in early 2000 and has its units in other states as well. Its role has been suspected in many stirs, including the hijab row in Karnataka.

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