Nationwide raids on Muslim group PFI in India, over 100 arrested

Sept 22, 2022: According to a report by Al Jazeera, India’s top investigation agencies have conducted nationwide raids on a prominent Muslim organisation and detained more than 100 of its members, accusing them of having terror links.

The simultaneous raids on the offices of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and homes of its members were conducted by the federally controlled National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in nearly a dozen states on Thursday morning.

Most of the arrests were made in the southern states. In Kerala, where PFI enjoys considerable influence in Muslim-majority areas, 22 people were arrested.

Arrests were also made in Maharashtra and Karnataka (20 each), Andhra Pradesh (5), Assam (9), Delhi (3), Madhya Pradesh (4), Puducherry (3), Tamil Nadu (10), Uttar Pradesh (8) and Rajasthan (2), according to Indian media reports.

India’s NDTV network said at least four PFI members have been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) a stringent terror law under which a person can spend years in jail without trial since the legislation has tough bail provisions.

The PFI was established in 2007 after the merger of three Muslim groups – the National Democratic Front in Kerala, the Karnataka Forum for Dignity in Karnataka, and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu.

In 2009, the organisation formed its political wing, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), to contest elections.

PFI says it works for the rights of Muslims and other marginalised communities in India. But right-wing Hindu groups, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accuses the group of violent attacks on its members.

Federal minister Giriraj Singh accused PFI of “working against India” and counterpart Ramdas Athawale said the group was “linked to terror organisations”.

The raids sparked protests in several parts of Kerala, where the PFI has called for a strike on Friday.

Rights activists have accused the government of using investigative agencies to harass and intimidate groups critical of its policies.

Muslim organisations have particularly come under attack and are often accused of terror links, they said.

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