The Popular Front of India has called a hartal in Kerala on Friday, September 23, after multiple central agencies, including the ED and the NIA, raided PFI offices in 10 states and detained 106 activists over charges of terror funding and money laundering. 

The PFI released a statement saying that a dawn-to-dusk strike will be observed to protest the raid. Earlier on Wednesday, PFI had said that the raids were “the fascist regime’s move to use agencies to silence dissenting voices.”

Also Read: Popular Front of India: A brief history

PTI has reported that the BJP has strongly come down on PFI’s call for strikes. K Surendran, the Kerala state chief of the BJP told PTI that the party found the protests “unnecessary”. 

He alleged that all of PFI’s previous calls for strikes have led to riots, and added that the state forces should take adequate measures to protect the life and property of people in the state. Surendran also said that the Left Front government in Kerala is not taking a strong stance against the PFI as it does not want to antagonise its Muslim vote bank. 

Announcing the strike, Abdul Sathar, the state general Secretary of the PFI said, “A hartal will be observed in the state on September 23 against the RSS-controlled fascist government’s attempt to silence dissenting voices using the central agencies.”

Among those arrested were senior leaders such as PFI state president C P Mohammad Basheer and national chairman O M A Salam. Among the 106 PFI members arrested, 14 are reported to be office bearers of the organisation.

Also read: National Investigation Agency raids Popular Front of India offices

Earlier, journalist Siddique Kappan was arrested by UP police in 2020 and charged with UAPA for alleged links with the PFI. The charges against him were reportedly based on pamphlets found in his possession while he was on his way to meet the victim’s family in the Hathras gangrape case. 

The Supreme Court, while granting him bail, had observed that propagating the idea that a 19-year-old gangrape victim is not a crime.

Talking about the raids, the PFI alleged that only public relations documents used by the outfit in its campaign were seized.