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PFI leaders arrest: Jharkhand police on high alert

Pakur police on July 5 had arrested 43 PFI cadres including its leader Hanjala Sheikh for clashing with police and allegedly trying to snatch weapons. A close vigil is kept on their cadres. Police fear they might take advantage of the current turmoil and foment communal passion.

ranchi Updated: Jul 12, 2017 12:42 IST
B Vijay Murty
B Vijay Murty
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
PFI supporters clashing with police in Pakur during their protest march on July 5.(HT Photo)

Secret agencies in Jharkhand have put its police high alert in Muslim majority districts after 43 members of Popular Front of India (PFI), an Islamic Fundamentalist Organisation (PFI), were arrested in Pakur for clashing with local police and allegedly trying to snatch their weapons on July 5.

At least five policemen including a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) were injured in the clash when PFI cadres in Pakur, a Muslim majority district sharing border with West Bengal, took out a protest rally against the increased attacks on Muslims and demanded arrest of local BJP leader, Hisabi Rai for spreading hate messages against their community.

Justifying the arrests, police had alleged that the PFI had not sought prior permission before taking out the protest rally and when they tried to preempt it, the protestors attacked security personnel deployed on the streets. This is the first time leaders and cadres of PFI, an organization banned in Kerala, have been arrested in Jharkhand.

Among those arrested include PFI’s firebrand leader, Hanjala Sheikh, whose name featured prominently in several anti-state protests in the recent past. Police said around a year back, PFI supporters led by Sheikh had waved Pakistani flags during an anti-state protest in Sahebganj but the local SP then had resisted lodging an FIR.

Taking serious umbrage to the arrest of their cadres, senior PFI leaders from across the country assembled in Pakur on Saturday and held meeting with their family members. Later, they released a press note to local media declaring the arrests police high-handedness and a bizarre act to suppress the fundamental rights of peacefully protesting Muslims.

PFI state president Abdul Kabir rubbished the allegations lodged against those arrested on July 5 as concocted and baseless. He said the organization had informed Pakur town police station about their protest rally well in advance.

“It was a peaceful rally. Police turned it violent by resorting to lathi charge and arresting our 43 cadres,” Kabir said, adding, “Our Delhi office has dispatched a team of legal experts. They will carry out an in-depth investigation and fight the legal battle to secure release of our arrested cadres.”

The press note declared PFI as a social and pro-democratic organization that works for uplift of dalits backwards and protection of minority rights in the country. Leaders said the organization reserves its rights to stage peaceful demonstrations.

“Considering their violent activities in Kerala and couple of other states in the past, we are keeping a strict vigil on their activities and movements. We fear they could align with few tribal and other anti-state organizations to foment trouble and gain political mileage as their main objective is to keep defeat BJP and keep it out of power,” said a senior IPS officer in the state intelligence department, who is not authoirised to speak to media.

Pakur police superintendent, Shailendra Burnwal said he had no option but to arrest the PFI cadres as they confronted police discharging their duties and further agitated them by trying to snatching their weapons.

He gave a clean chit to local BJP leader, Hisabi Rai declaring uncouth elements had created a fake ID carrying his picture and name to spread hate messages. “We have tracked down the miscreant who to tried to stoke communal fervor. The BJP is innocent,” he said.

About PFI

Since its inception, PFI has been accused of various antisocial and anti-national activities. The allegations include connections with various Islamic terrorist groups, possessing arms, kidnapping, murder, intimidation, hate campaigns, rioting, Love Jihad and various acts of religious extremism, the most infamous among them being the assault on Professor T J Joseph who had set a controversial question paper insulting the Prophet Muhammed.


First Published: Jul 12, 2017 12:42 IST