Start process to quantify loss incurred during PFI strike: Kerala high court

Published on Jan 25, 2023 12:58 AM IST

The Kerala high court on Tuesday ordered the state’s claims commissioner to start proceedings for the quantification of loss caused during the flash shutdown called by the banned Popular Front of India (PFI) in last September and directed the police to avoid mix ups while confiscating properties of the outlawed outfit and its members

Chennai: Popular Front of India (PFI) workers protest against the raid of National Investigation Agency (NIA) at the PFI office, in Chennai, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. NIA along with other agencies conducted raids at the offices of Popular Front of India (PFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) across the country as part of its search against people supporting terror groups, on Thursday. (PTI Photo)(PTI09_22_2022_000152A) (PTI)
Chennai: Popular Front of India (PFI) workers protest against the raid of National Investigation Agency (NIA) at the PFI office, in Chennai, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. NIA along with other agencies conducted raids at the offices of Popular Front of India (PFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) across the country as part of its search against people supporting terror groups, on Thursday. (PTI Photo)(PTI09_22_2022_000152A) (PTI)
By, Thiruvananthapuram

The Kerala high court on Tuesday ordered the state’s claims commissioner to start proceedings for the quantification of loss caused during the flash shutdown called by the banned Popular Front of India (PFI) in last September and directed the police to avoid mix ups while confiscating properties of the outlawed outfit and its members.

“Claims commissioner will commence proceedings for the quantification of loss caused on the account of overt acts on Sept 23 from next week onwards and the state of Kerala and its officials are directed to afford such assistance required to the commissioner for commencing proceedings,” a division bench of justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Mohammad Nias said. The court also asked revenue and police authorities to take care while attaching properties after some complaints surfaced.

The state government had submitted a list of district-wise break-up of attached properties in the court on Monday. Malappuram topped with 126 seized properties, while Kollam was lowest with a single property. A total of 248 properties were attached in connection with the violence.

The seized property list includes the main office of the banned outfit in Kozhikode, district offices and houses of many leaders, including jailed state secretary Abdul Sattar, who gave the call for the shutdown.

“As the case is being probed by the National Investigation Agency, our job was only to find out ownership of properties owned by the PFI, its affiliates and leaders. Source of income and foreign remittances, if any, will be investigated by the central agency,” a state government official said, seeking anonymity.

The Keral high court had registered a suo motu case a day after the shutdown on September 23, when the state saw large-scale violence and damage to public property worth 5.20 crore. The court had pulled up the government several times and summoned the additional chief secretary last month after the state government overshot deadline set by the court.

The court on Tuesday also directed the additional chief home secretary to furnish details showing links of persons whose properties were attached with the banned outfit. The court asked the claims commissioner to show details of valuation of properties attached.

There were some complaints that properties of some Muslim League leaders were found in the attached property list. Property of a PFI leader who was allegedly killed by activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at least six months before the ban was also found on the list.

CT Ashraf, a Muslim League leader, complained that recovery notices were pasted on his house and a small plot of land as a case of mistaken identity. Revenue officials later admitted that they were on the lookout for properties of a PFI leader with same name and initials.

Similar complaints were reported from Kannur and Kozhikode districts. “We have no problem with attaching properties of PFI leaders, but agencies should not target community members like this,” said Muslim League general secretary PMA Salam.

Similarly, attachment notices were given to the deceased PFI leader A Subair, who was allegedly killed by RSS activists on April 14 last year. He was killed five months before the ban and subsequent strike called by the fundamentalist outfit. Besides aged parents, Subair’s wife and three children live in the small house. He was reportedly killed as retaliation to the murder of RSS activist Sanjith.

There were four such retaliatory killings between PFI and RSS last year in Palakkad and Alappuzha districts.

The PFI was founded in Kerala in 2006 and the fundamentalist outfit later spread its tentacles throughout the country. Most of its founders and top leaders are from Kerala.

It successfully exploited a vacuum in the community, donning the role of a “saviour” and presented an image of being exploited to mobiliise funds, especially from the oil-rich, middle eastern countries, a Muslim reformer said on condition of anonymity. Its growth was exponential in the past decade, the reformer said, adding that intelligence authorities and some political parties were to be blamed for its mass spread.

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