Local police are conducting raids at PFI offices in multiple states at the behest of the central agencies for the second day in a row. The raids are in response to the violence that broke out after officers from the central agencies raided PFI offices in various cities.
A PFI leader’s home in Udupi, Kerala, was raided by Kerala Police and four people were arrested. In Delhi, 30 people were detained from Shaheen Bagh and Nizamuddin, while in Assam 25 people were arrested. 21 people were detained in Madhya Pradesh, 10 in Gujarat, 60 in Karnataka, and 4 from Thane in Maharashtra.
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The PFI is not a banned outfit as yet, but the ongoing raids are being seen as an effort to push for its ban. In 2020, a possible ban on the PFI was discussed, but it could not be pushed because of insufficient evidence. Now, the ban on the outfit under UAPA act might be in the offing and the raids are being seen as an ongoing effort to collect evidence.
The NIA has charged PFI with fomenting enmity between religious groups, disrupting public peace, and conspiring against the Indian state. So far, the agency has registered 19 cases related to the PFI and charge-sheeted 355 for being associated with the outfit. They have been able to secure the conviction of 46 people in cases related to the PFI so far.
The NIA alleges that the PFI is responsible for propagating an alternative judiciary system that justifies violence. Their propaganda is responsible for many joining banned terror outfits like Al Qaeda, the NIA claims. It also claims that PFI is conspiring to establish Islamic rule in India.
After today’s raids, fresh arrests will likely follow. However, with NIA seeking the conviction of only 46 people so far, it remains to be seen how well their cases hold in the courts.
In an earlier PFI-related case, where journalist Siddique Kappan was arrested by UP Police in Mathura and charged with UAPA, the Supreme Court said that the evidence presented in court by the police was not “conclusive” to substantiate the charges. The UP police had claimed that Kappan was part of a large terror nexus run by the PFI.
The SC had observed then that the police only found PFI propaganda materials related to the Hathras gang rape and murder, and asked UP police in court, “is that a crime in the eyes of the law?” The court later granted Kappan bail.
For the ban on PFI to go through, the NIA will need more concrete evidence that can substantiate the terror charges, and only then will PFI qualify as a terror organisation under the UAPA Act.