On the intervening night of September 21 and September 22, National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted several raids on locations linked to the Islamist organization Popular Front of India (PFI) across 10 states, including Bihar, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana.
The agency arrested around 100 cadres, including top leaders of the organization. As per reports, the raids were conducted by joint teams of NIA, Enforcement Directorate (ED), and respective State Police, and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs was monitoring the action against the organization.
As per news agency ANI, NIA raided the residence of Chairman of PFI OMA Salam in Manjeri, Malappuram as well. Following the surprise raids, PFI workers staged protests outside Salam’s house. The Police also detained the protesting members of PFI at several locations.
In Kerala, NIA has taken 4 of PFI’s top leaders into custody along with chairman OMA Salam. Kerala state chief CP Mohammed Basheer, national secretary VP Nazarudheen & national council member Prof P Koya have been taken into custody, ANI reported.
News18 quoted sources in NIA that called the crackdown the “largest ever investigation process till date.” The raids were conducted at the residential and official premises of the PFI members involved in terror funding, organizing terror camps, and radicalizing people. Official details from the investigation agencies about the raids were awaited when this report was published.
In Assam, NIA and the state police launched a joint operation against PFI and detained 9 members from Hatigaon and Guwahati.
In Tamil Nadu, NIA has raided 8 locations in the Madurai city area including Villapuram, Gomatipuram, and Kulamangalam, ANI reported. Similar raids have been carried out in Bihar’s Purnia.
Cases of terror funding, money laundering and radicalization against PFI
There have been several reports that suggest PFI has been involved in terror funding, money laundering and radicalization of Muslim youth in the country. In May 2022, ED filed a ‘prosection case’ against two PFI extremists Abdul Razak Peediyakkal alias Abdul Razak BP and Asharaf Khadir alias Ashraf MK in a money laundering case of Rs 22 crores. According to the charge sheet, these leaders of the PFI established a business in Munnar, Kerala, to launder money acquired abroad and support the organization’s “radical activities.” It is also claimed that these leaders were involved in the formation of a purported “terror group” by the PFI.
The two are also related, according to the ED, to the payment of Rs 3.5 lakh (from August 2018 to January 2021) to PFI member Anshad Badharudeen, who was nabbed by the Uttar Pradesh Police Anti-Terrorism Squad last year, along with PFI member Firoz Khan. The authorities discovered homemade explosive devices, a 32-bore pistol, and seven live rounds in their possession.
As per News18 reports, the ED checked accounts of over 600 contributors and 2,600 beneficiaries in Bharat. It was found that the majority of these accounts were fake, and the persons whose names were given to open the account were not found during physical verifications.
Earlier this year, the Telangana police had busted PFI-run radicalisation camps where Muslim youth were given arms and weapons training. In Kerala, the organisation has been linked with dozens of murders.
NIA raided PFI locations in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
On Monday, similar raids were conducted by NIA in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh at over 40 locations. At that time, four people were detained by the investigation agency. Reports suggested that NIA had recovered incriminating materials, including documents, draggers, digital devices, and cash over 8 lakh.
(This article was first published on OpIndia on September 22, 2022, and has been republished with consent)