PFI calls for 12-hour hartal in Kerala against crackdown by NIA

The National Investigation Agency conducted raids against PFI leaders across the country in the wee hours of September 22, sparking protests by members in several places.
PFI protest in Kerala's Wayanad
PFI protest in Kerala's Wayanad
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The Kerala committee of the Popular Front of India (PFI) has called for a 12-hour hartal on Friday, September 23, in protest against the nationwide raids at PFI offices, houses of leaders and other premises. The Kerala committee of the PFI has announced that they will be protesting the raids from 6 am to 6 pm on Friday. The decision comes after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in its first nationwide crackdown against the organisation, conducted raids in over 40 locations across the country on Thursday. 

The state committee, in a press statement, called the detainment of the PFI leaders an act of “injustice” and “state-sponsored terrorism”. "The RSS reined fascist government is trying to silence voices of dissent using central agencies. All those who believe in democracy should come forward to make the hartal a success," A Abdul Sathar, state General Secretary of PFI said in the statement. Meanwhile, PFI activists on Thursday staged protests across Kerala against the raids. As news of the early morning searches broke out, PFI workers took out marches to the places where the raids were carried out and raised slogans against the Union government and its investigating agencies. However, central forces were already deployed at places where protests broke out to contain the situation. 

A PFI source said protests marches were carried out in almost all districts including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Thrissur. "The searches were mainly carried out in the offices of the state and district committees and the houses of its office-bearers. Though initially we thought the searches were conducted by the Enforcement Directorate, it has become clear later that it was by the NIA," the source told PTI.

As many as 14 office-bearers of the PFI, including national, state and district leaders, were taken into custody from the state by the central agencies, the source said.  PFI state president C P Mohammed Basheer, national chairman O M A Salam, national secretary Nasaruddin Elamaram and others were among those in custody, the source added.

In Kerala, local media reported that all the leaders and workers, who were taken into custody from various parts of the state would be brought to the NIA office in Kochi. The house of a Thrissur-based leader of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) was also raided, the outfit's state president Ashraf Maulavi said.

Addressing a press conference, he said “those who believe and act in accordance with the Constitution of the country should expect any such fascist move against them in the RSS-ruled India”. "Through such deeds, the Centre is actually indulging in anti-constitutional activities. The public society should raise its voice against such practices to protect the country," he said. He added that  legal steps would be taken against such acts after consulting with the national leadership.

The leader also claimed that those documents, reportedly seized during the raids, were only related to public relations materials used by the outfits for their campaign.

With PTI Inputs 

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