The Kerala High Court today initiated a case on its own against leaders of the Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) over calls for flash hartal (strike) in the state to protest against raids on and the arrest of over 100 of its top leaders.
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Pointing out that hartals were banned by it earlier, the court directed the state government to take strict action against those who violate its order. The destruction of public property is unacceptable, it said. The Kerala High Court had in a January 7, 2019 order said that nobody can call for a bandh in the state without prior notice of seven days.
The court also observed that immediate action should be taken on incidents of violence in the state.
Sporadic incidents of violence, including stone pelting, were reported since Friday morning in various parts of Kerala as the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by PFI was underway. Two police officers were earlier today injured in Kollam after allegedly being attacked by PFI supporters.
The hartal was called by the PFI to protest against the raids in the offices and residences of its leaders and their subsequent arrests on Thursday by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other agencies for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country. It started at 6 am and will continue for 12 hours till 6 pm.
The NIA on Thursday morning raided the premises linked to PFI in several states. Over 100 top PFI leaders and functionaries have been arrested during raids in 10 states, including in Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The raids were carried out by the NIA, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), and state police in a coordinated move. The group had called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Kerala on Friday to mark their protest.
In what is believed to be the “largest ever” crackdown till date, raids and searches are being carried out against those allegedly involved in terror funding, organising training camps, and radicalising others to join extremist groups. 22 people were arrested in Kerala — the most among all states.
The PFI state committee has said that it considers the arrests “unjust” and “part of atrocities by the state”. “A hartal will be held in the state on September 23, Friday, against the RSS-controlled fascist government’s move to use central agencies to silence dissenting voices,” it said. The PFI also called upon the “democratic believers” to make success the strike against the “fascist regime that crush the civil rights”.
On Tuesday, the anti-terror agency charged four PFI functionaries under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after carrying out searches at 38 locations in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Formed in 2006, the PFI claims to work for the empowerment of marginalised sections of India. Law enforcement agencies say it is promoting radical Islam.