The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Thursday conducted searches across 10 states in connection with anti-terror activities. Sources told The Indian Express the agencies were acting on a suspicion that the people being probed were allegedly involved in organising terror camps and encouraging youth to join terror activities. As part of the searches, as many as 100 people linked to the Popular Front of India (PFI) were arrested.
According to news agency PTI, the searches are part of the “largest-ever” investigation process “till date”.
NIA is conducting searches at locations linked to PFI across 10 states including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Assam.
NIA, ED along with state police have arrested more than 100 cadres of PFI.
In Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, four PFI leaders have been taken into custody by NIA. PFI chairman OMA Salam, Kerala state chief CP Mohammed Basheer, national secy VP Nazarudheen & national council member Prof P Koya were taken into custody.
The Assam Police has detained nine persons linked with PFI across the state. A senior police official told ANI that, last night Assam police and NIA jointly launched the operation in the Hatigaon area, Guwahati & detained 9 persons across the state linked with PFI.
In Tamil Nadu, more than 50 members of the PFI were seen protesting outside the party office against the NIA raid.
The PFI, in a statement, said the “raids are taking place at the homes of its national, state and local leaders. The state committee office is also being raided”. “We strongly protest the fascist regime’s moves to use agencies to silence dissenting voices,” the outfit said.
NIA earlier this month also raided 40 places in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh in a PFI case and detained four persons.
The agency then conducted searches at 38 locations in Telangana (23 in Nizamabad, four in Hyderabad, seven in Jagityal, two in Nirmal, one each in Adilabad and Karimnagar districts) and two locations in Andhra Pradesh (one each in Kurnool and Nellore districts).
In the operation, NIA had seized incriminating materials, including digital devices, documents, two daggers and ₹8,31,500 cash.
The PFI was launched in Kerala in 2006 after merging three Muslim organizations floated after the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 – the National Development Front of Kerala, Karnataka Forum for Dignity, and Manitha Neethi Pasari of Tamil Nadu. After the demolition of the Babri mosque, many fringe outfits surfaced in south India and PFI was formed after merging some of them. Now the PFI claims it has units in 22 states.