INDIA. Mumbai: The Bund Garden police of Pune took into custody over 60 activists of the radical Islamist Organisation- the Popular Front of India (PFI) on Saturday for organizing a morcha to the Pune collectorate without permission as a protest against the crackdown by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other agencies.
A massive morcha was organized on Friday demanding the release of two PFI activists-.The NIA arrested Razi Ahmed Shaikh and Abdul Kayum Shaikh from the Kondhva area on Thursday. Besides, the NIA also sealed the PFI’s Pune office.
These people were among 20 activists arrested from various places across Maharashtra as part of the nationwide multi-agency operation led by the NIA.
Five among them- Mazhar khan, Shaikh Sadique, Mohammad Iqbal khan, Momin Mistri, and Asif khan, have already been remanded to NIA custody, Mumbai, till September 26. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrests were made on behalf of the NIA.
During Friday morcha, the activists reportedly raised the slogans such as “Pakistan Zindabad” and “Allahu akbar”. However, the police did not confirm whether the slogan “Pakistan Zindabad” was raised, saying that they have received some videos being verified since there was too much din during the morcha. “We had earlier given a notice to the organizers not to hold any protest, but they did not follow the order”, DCP Sagar Patil said.
However, after a video surfaced on social media, which shows that a “Pakistan Zindabad” slogan was allegedly raised during a protest organized by the PFI activists, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Saturday said such slogans would not be tolerated in the state. Taking to his official Twitter account, Shinde condemned the pro-Pakistan slogan raised by “anti-social elements”.
The activists were arrested, and the offence has been registered under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 141, 143,145, 147,149 (all about unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), and 341 (wrongful restraint), and also under sections the Maharashtra Police Act, Senior inspector Pratap Mankar of Bundgarden police station said.
In a huge campaign against the PFI, multi-agency teams headed by the NIA detained 106 PFI leaders and activists in simultaneous raids across 11 states on suspicion of aiding terrorism.
The maximum number of arrests were made in Kerala (22), followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka (20 each), Tamil Nadu (10), Assam (9), Uttar Pradesh (8), Andhra Pradesh (5), Madhya Pradesh (4), Puducherry and Delhi (3 each) and Rajasthan (2).
In another development, the special NIA Court in Delhi remanded 11 PFI activists who were arrested on September 22 in custody till September 30 on Saturday. In its remand report, the NIA claimed that the seized documents during the raids contained highly incriminating materials targeting prominent leaders of a particular community.
Additionally, the agency claimed that the extremist Islamist organisation urged young people to join terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Islamic State (IS), and Al-Qaeda.
PFI was formed in 2006 when the National Development Front (NDF), a post-Babri demolition outfit founded in 1993 by some ex-SIMI leaders, merged with Tamil Nadu-based Manitha Neethi Pasrai, Karnataka-based Karnataka Forum of Dignity (KFD), Citizens Forum of Goa, Community and Social Education Society based in Rajasthan and Nagrik Adhikar Suraksha Samithi of Andhra Pradesh.
Sources suggest that the central government is now thinking about outlawing the group, which calls itself “neo-cultural” but has engaged in terrorist acts.