CHENNAI/NEW DELHI/BENGALURU/VIJAYAWADA/KOCHI: In one of their biggest joint operations against terror funding and terror activities, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday arrested 106 activists of the Popular Front of India (PFI) from 93 locations across 15 states, including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Telangana, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi even as top officials met to discuss a likely ban on the organisation.
During the coordinated nationwide operation, which began at around 3:30 am, PFI Chairman O M A Salam, national general secretary V P Nasarudeen Elamaram and the organisation’s Delhi unit head Parvez Ahmed, among others, were taken into custody. Salam was picked up from his home at Kerala’s Malappuram, after the place was searched. Ahmed’s residence in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar was also raided.
Raids were also carried out in Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, West Bengal, Bihar and Manipur. The NIA said 45 of the total arrests were made by the agency. Even as the raids and arrests were underway, Union Home Minister Amit Shah met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and NIA Director-General Dinkar Gupta to discuss details of the case, the likely fallout and implications.
“While 19 accused have been arrested from Kerala, 11 have been arrested from Tamil Nadu, 7 from Karnataka, 4 from Andhra Pradesh, 2 from Rajasthan, 1 each from UP and Telangana,” an NIA statement read. Among the arrested leaders in Kerala were PFI’s state president C P Mohammed Basheer, national council member P Koya and senior functionaries Jaseer K P, Shafeer K P, E Abu Backer, E M Abdul Rahiman, Najumudeen, Sainuddeen T S, Yahiya Koya Thangal, K Muhammedali, C T Sulaiman, P K Usman, Karamana Ashraf Moulavi, Sadiq Ahmed, Shihas, Ansari P and M M Mujeeb.
The 11 PFI functionaries arrested in Tamil Nadu were identified as Syed Ishaaq, Advocate Khalid Mohammed, A M Idris, Mohamed Abuthahir, S Khaja Maideen, Yasar Arafat, Barakathullah, Fayaz Ahamed, M Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Mohammed Yousuf and A S Ismail.
In Karnataka, the NIA, with help of local police searched suspects’ locations in Bengaluru and Mangaluru and arrested Anis Ahmed, Afsar Pasha, Abdul Wahid Sait, Yasar Arafath Hasan, Mohammed Shakif alias Shakif, Mohammed Farooq ur Rahman and Shahid Nasir.
Sources said documents, cash, sharp-edged weapons and large number of digital devices were seized during the raids. The NIA is investigating a total of 19 PFI-related cases, including five registered on Thursday.