LUCKNOW: In a major crackdown, the Uttar Pradesh police have arrested 108 members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) during the last four days from across the state for their alleged involvement in inciting violence during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Interacting with the media on Monday morning, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Home, Awanish Kumar Awasthi said pamphlets against the CAA were also seized from the possession of four PFI men arrested from Muzaffarnagar, identified as Farman, Nafees, Idrish and Mursaleen.
“The latest arrests are in addition to the 25 made earlier,” said the ACS. He noted that the PFI was established on November 22, 2006, after the imposition of the ban on SIMI.
Flanked by newly-anointed interim Director General of UP Police HC Awasthi, the additional chief secretary claimed that it was just the beginning of the swoop. “We will get to the roots of the organisation. A probe is also going on about the financial dealings of the PFI in UP. We are in touch with central probe agencies and are sharing information with them," he said.
As per the UP DGP, the PFI is active across 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh. The 108 arrested during a special drive in the last four days included 14 from Lucknow, three from Sitapur, 21 from Meerut, nine from Ghaziabad, six from Muzzafarnagar, seven from Shamli, 4 from Bijnor, 20 from Varanasi, five from
Kanpur, 16 from Bahraich and one each from Gonda, Jaunpur and Hapur.
During the investigation, the involvement of the outfit in financing the violent protests had also cropped up, said DGP Awasthi. “They had been accumulating money for quite some time to incite violence during the protests,” he added.
The police officials also claimed that the PFI leadership was allegedly getting funds from their masters based in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Those based in south Indian states were reportedly receiving the funds for creating trouble in India through the ISI from across the border, said a senior cop. The PFI
members were directed to use the money to arrange huge crowds during the anti-CAA protests and also get material.
In December 2019, the Uttar Pradesh Police had sought a ban on the PFI after its complicity was suspected in the statewide violent protests against the amended citizenship law.
Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) report had indicated a massive PFI hand in inciting violence by Muslim mobs all across Uttar Pradesh. It had also revealed several transactions to 73 bank accounts worth Rs 120 crore.
The then UP DGP OP Singh had written to the Union Home Ministry, seeking a ban on the PFI after its Uttar Pradesh head, Wasim Ahmad, and 16 other activists were arrested for allegedly masterminding the violence in the state capital during anti-CAA protests on December 19-20.