What is popular front and why has more than 100 of its operatives been arrested across India

What is popular front and why has more than 100 of its operatives been arrested across India

Student leaders of PFI were involved in the murder of Abhimanyu, a leader of CPIM's student wing SFI, inside Maharaja's College in Kerala in 2018.

Some 106 people with links to the Popular Front of India (PFI) have been arrested in a joint operation conducted by the National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate and state police forces across 11 states on Thursday.

Raids were conducted in various locations in Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Puducherry, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Delhi, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

The raids and arrests were carried out across the country amid the protests by PFI and SDPI cadres in many locations.

On Tuesday, the anti-terror agency charged four PFI functionaries under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after carrying out searches at 38 locations in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Founded in 2006 in Kerala by the merger of some local Islamist outfits and several founding members of the banned terror outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), PFI and its political wing the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years over their extremist links.

Many of the Kerala youths who joined ISIS in Syria and Afghanistan were members of SDPI and PFI.

PFI members were behind the chopping of the hand of professor TJ Joseph in Kerala in 2010, an incident many believe inspired other such acts including the murder of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur earlier this year.

Student leaders of PFI were involved in the murder of Abhimanyu, a leader of CPIM's student wing SFI, inside Maharaja's College in Kerala in 2018.

PFI has also been accused of running Sathya Sarini, an 'Islamic education institute that has been accused of indoctrinating and converting non-Muslims to Islam, including the infamous Hadiya case in Kerala.

Earlier this year a video had surfaced from a PFI rally in Kerala in which a minor boy was seen chanting death threats to Hindus and Christians in the state.

After the video went viral and the boy was detained, he told the police that he learned the slogan from PFI's anti-CAA NRC protests.

Even in Karnataka, the government had alleged that PFI's student wing, the Campus Front had instigated the Muslim students to wear hijabs, which led to protests by other students.

PFI's name had also surfaced in the arrest of Kerala journalist Sidheeq Kappan who was arrested by UP police while he was on his way to Hathras to report on the Hathras gang rape and murder.

Kappan was a former reporter of Thejas, a now-defunct Malayalam newspaper, seen as the mouthpiece of SDPI.

Reacting to the raids and arrests on Thursday, the PFI called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Kerala on Friday.

What is popular front and why has more than 100 of its operatives been arrested across India
Enforcement Directorate arrests PFI student leader Rauf Shareef in Kerala for funding Hathras protests, UP Police to seek custody

"A hartal will be observed in the state on September 23 against the RSS-controlled fascist government's attempt to silence dissenting voices using the central agencies," A Abdul Sathar, state general secretary, PFI, said.

The hartal would be held from 6 AM to 6 PM, he said in the statement.

As many as 14 office-bearers of the PFI, including national, state and district leaders, were taken into custody from the state by the central agencies.

PFI state president C P Mohammed Basheer, national chairman O M A Salam, national secretary Nasaruddin Elamaram and others were among those in custody from Kerala.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Indians In Gulf
www.indiansingulf.in