Several leaders held in Karnataka as NIA cracks down on PFI

Published on Sep 23, 2022 12:19 AM IST

NIA carried out raids at the offices of the Social Democratic Party of India and Popular Front of India (PFI) and residences of their key office-bearers in Karnataka, detaining some of them

Security personnel keep vigil outside the PFI office in Bengaluru on Thursday during the NIA raids. (PTI)
Security personnel keep vigil outside the PFI office in Bengaluru on Thursday during the NIA raids. (PTI)

Bengaluru: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) carried out raids at the offices of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and Popular Front of India (PFI) and residences of their key office-bearers in Karnataka, detaining some of them, officials said.

Simultaneous raids were conducted in Mysuru, Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Shivamogga, Kalaburagi, Davanagere, Raichur and Koppal, according to Karnataka police.

According to officials, the NIA sleuths have taken into custody Azeez Abdul Shukur Honnavar from Sirsi, PFI district president of Kalaburagi Ejaj Ali, Shahid Khan, SDPI president in Shivamogga, former Mysuru president Maulana Mohammad Kaleemulla, Imamuddin from Davanagere, and Abu Tahir from Harihara town.

The agency also conducted a search in the house of Abdul Khader Kulai, brother of SDPI Dakshina Kannada district president Aboobakkar Kulai, at Kulai near Surathkal.

SDPI leader Ataullah Jokatte has maintained that three leaders have been arrested. “Ashraf AK, Mohiyuddin Haleyangadi and Nawaz Kavur have been detained by NIA,” he said. The sleuths also raided the residence of PFI leader Mohiyuddin’s mother.

A final list of those arrested in the raids is yet to be released by the NIA.

Karnataka home minister Araga Jnanendra on Thursday said that the procedure to impose a permanent ban on PFI and SDPI has begun at the Central government level.

“Everyone knows about the misdeeds that SDPI and PFI organisations are indulging in. The world should know how they manage to get funds and who backs them. To clean the mess that had been created by them, raids were very much necessary,” the minister said.

“These organisations have grown to this proportion only with the direct and indirect support of the Congress party all these years. If these organisations have to be cut to size, one should not look at religion, caste, loss or profit. Everyone should cooperate,” he added.

In Bengaluru, raids were conducted in four places in the city -- a flat in an apartment in Bagaluru, a flat belonging to Karnataka PFI president Mohammed Shakib in Richmond Town, a house on Tannery Road and the residence of another member in Pulakeshinagar. Shakib was reportedly not in the house when the NIA officials conducted the raid.

Following the raid, hundreds of supporters of Shakib gathered in front of his house and staged a protest, raising ‘Go back NIA’ slogans. They said the raid is politically motivated. The Ashok Nagar police who were at the spot have stopped the protesters from entering the premises.

Aboobakkar Kulai said the NIA officials have come to their officer around 3.30 am in Dakshina Kannada district. “They have taken some documents like our rental agreement, some papers regarding our activities and some photographs of our programmes. We are cooperating with them. When we asked them what was the raid about, they didn’t tell us but said they have orders. I want to repeat that this is a conspiracy by the BJP government and nothing more,” he said.

Hours after the raids, PFI and SDPI workers held a protest in Mangaluru city, following which police detained them. “NIA is conducting some search operations in Mangaluru city. Following this, around 50-60 people gathered for the protest in the city. These areas are very sensitive. We have deployed police and asked them not to hold any protests. When they continued to hold protests in sensitive areas, we made some preventive detentions. We have detained around 40 people, who are workers of PFI and SDPI,” said N Shashi Kumar, Mangaluru police commissioner.

Soon after taking over the investigation of BJP youth wing worker Praveen Nettaru’s murder, the NIA searched 33 locations in Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu and Mysuru districts on September 6 and seized used ammunition, improvised arms, digital devices and incriminating documents. In a statement, the NIA said the accused in Nettaru’s murder were active members of PFI.

Nettaru (32), a zilla BJP Yuva Morcha committee member, was hacked to death by unidentified motorbike-borne assailants on July 26 night at Bellare in Dakshina Kannada district.

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