LUCKNOW: With the role of Popular Front of India (PFI) becoming conspicuous in allegedly fomenting trouble in the state during recent anti-CAA protests in Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi Adityanath government is planning to take strict action against radical forces and organisations involved in cases of arson and violence during the protests.
As per top state government officials, the dispensation was keeping a close watch on the activities of the PFI in the state. Uttar Pradesh suffered the maximum loss of government property worth crores in the violent anti-CAA protests. While 21 persons lost their lives, scores were left with grievous injuries including around 250 cops during the protests which turned violent almost everywhere in the state.
So far, 13 PFI activists have been arrested for allegedly spreading canards and provoking people to indulge in violence during the anti-CAA protests in the state last week.
In Lucknow, the district police arrested three masterminds of the violence including Waseem Ahmad, the state chief of PFI and treasurer Ashfaq.
Another PFI activist Nadeem of Barabanki was also held for his role in giving a violent turn to otherwise a peaceful protest against CAA in Lucknow on December 19. “A huge cache of objectionable material including flags, pamphlets, booklets and CDs used to radicalise the Muslim youth and drive them towards terrorism was recovered from the three PFI activists held in the state capital after the December 19 protests which had witnessed heavy stone-pelting, arson and vandalism by the protesters,” said IG SK Bhagat.
One person had died and 35 were left with injuries during the protests in Lucknow.
In Meerut also, the police have arrested two miscreants in connection with the violence. During the investigation, it was revealed that both the accused were active members of the PFI. Additional Director General, Meerut Zone, Prashant Kumar confirmed the presence and role of PFI in fanning trouble in the communally sensitive western UP district.
As per sources, the two alleged PFI activists caught in Meerut revealed that the headquarters of the PFI was located near South-East Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh/Okhla-Jamia Nagar area.
However, amid talk of putting a ban on the PFI, senior state authorities declined to confirm any such plan. "At present, the state police intelligence and the state government are keeping a close watch on all the suspicious activities of this organisation," said a senior government official.
Sources said that the Delhi Police and Uttar Pradesh Police are planning to take strict action against the organisation.
The state authorities claimed that those who had been associated with the banned extremist organisation Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) have now become active in the state as PFI workers.
A senior officer of the Uttar Pradesh Police said: "Wherever the state police have received news of riots and arson, the organisation is directly or indirectly involved. This is a sensitive matter. No action will be taken in haste. Exemplary action will be taken against the organisation so that no untoward action happens in the future."
As per sources, PFI’s footprints were found in 13 states across the country. They use various social media platforms including Whatsapp and SMS to spread hatred against a particular community and the dispensation through provocative messaging, said an official.