New Delhi: The Kerala High Court today initiated a case on its own against leaders of the Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) over calls for a day-long strike in the state to protest against raids on and the arrest of over 100 of its top leaders.
Sporadic incidents of violence, including stone pelting, were reported since Friday morning in various parts of Kerala as the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by PFI was underway.
- Pointing out that forced shutdowns were banned by it earlier, the court asked the Kerala government to take strict action against those who violated its order. The Kerala High Court had in January said that nobody can call for a protest shutdown in the state without a prior notice of seven days.
- In Karnataka, state Home Minister Araga Jnanendra has said the process to ban PFI has already started. State police had searched 18 places yesterday and 15 people were picked up for questioning, he said, adding that seven people were arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
- Formed in 2006, the PFI claims to work for the empowerment of marginalised communities in India. It advocates for the rights of Dalits, Muslims, and tribals.
- Law enforcement agencies, however, say PFI is promoting radical Islam and recruiting for terror outfits. PFI came under the scanner of central agencies after its members chopped off the hand of a college professor in Kerala for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
- The NIA on Thursday morning raided the premises linked to PFI in several states. Over 100 top PFI leaders and functionaries have been arrested during raids in 10 states, including in Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
- The raids were carried out by the NIA, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), and state police in a coordinated move. The group had called for a dawn-to-dusk strike in Kerala on Friday to mark their protest.
- In what is believed to be the “largest ever” crackdown till date, raids and searches are being carried out against those allegedly involved in terror funding, organising training camps, and radicalising others to join extremist groups. 22 people were arrested in Kerala — the most among all states.
- Violent protests, including stone pelting, were reported since Friday morning in various parts of Kerala as the dawn-to-dusk strike called by PFI is underway. Two police officers were injured in the Kollam district after allegedly being attacked by PFI supporters. The strike started at 6 am and will continue till 6 pm.
- Supporters of the strike took out protest marches, blocked vehicles, and forcefully downed the shutters of shops in various places where the outfit has a strong presence. Besides cops, some bus and truck drivers, and commuters, suffered injuries from stone pelting.
The PFI Kerala state committee has said that it considers the arrests “unjust” and “part of atrocities by the state”. “A hartal (strike) will be held in the state on September 23, Friday, against the RSS-controlled fascist government’s move to use central agencies to silence dissenting voices,” it said. The PFI also called upon the “democratic believers” to make success the strike against the “fascist regime that crush civil rights”