10 arrested in Assam
Ten activists of the Popular Front of India (PFI) were arrested in Assam for allegedly fomenting communal strife and posing a threat to internal security as part of a country-wide multi-agency operation spearheaded by the NIA on Thursday, police said.
A team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) also raided an office of the PFI in Thoubal district of neighbouring Manipur and seized a large number of documents. However, none was arrested from this state, officials said.
Altogether 106 activists of the Popular Front of India were picked up in near-simultaneous raids in 11 states for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country.
According to a statement of the Assam Police in Guwahati, leaders of the organisation were arrested as there is ‘reliable information’ that they were making efforts to foment communal strife throughout the state.
“They were indulging in whipping up communal passion and sentiment of the religious minority by criticising every policy of the government with communal overtones with a view to terming these actions as attacks on the Muslim community,” the statement read.
It claimed that they slammed state and central government moves such as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC), ‘D’-Voter (doubtful voter), state Education Policy, Cattle Protection Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), TET examination, Agnipath scheme and eviction of people from encroached government land.
They were also obstructing government employees in performing duties by use of force, the police alleged.
The activists had been extensively using cyberspace to incite people by taking up issues and orders of courts outside the state, the statement claimed.
The activists were also allegedly involved in organising protests against the issues in “communally sensitive” areas of Assam’s Karimganj, Barpeta, Baksa, Kamrup (Rural), Goalpara and Kamrup (Metro) districts, according to the statement.
In Manipur, an NIA team supported by personnel of the state police and CRPF raided the PFI’s Lilong Bazar office in Thoubal district and seized several documents.
The team searched the office for around eight hours since 3.30 am, sources said.
The NIA brought PFI state general secretary Md Rafijuddin from his residence to the office to open its lock.
Following the raid, Popular Front of India state president Md Abdullah, who was summoned to the office by the NIA, told reporters that PFI did not have any contact with any organisation which functions against the Indian Constitution.
“The PFI will meet all challenges and will always stand for the unity of India,” he said.
As the news of the raid spread, a mob gathered near the PFI office and shouted slogans against the NIA.
Formed in 2006, the PFI claims to strive for a neo-social movement ostensibly for the empowerment of marginalised sections of India. It is, however, often accused by law enforcement agencies of promoting radical Islam.