Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 22, 2022: The Popular Front of India (PFI) will observe a hartal from dawn to dusk across Kerala on Friday to mark their strong protest against the raids carried out in a multi-agency operation led by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) over alleged terror links, activists announced on Thursday.
The announcement came as PFI activists staged protests in the southern state against the raids carried out in their organisation’s offices, houses of leaders and other premises for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country.
According to a PFI statement, its state committee observed that the arrest of the leaders was part of “state-sponsored terrorism". “A hartal will be observed in the state on September 23 against the RSS-controlled fascist government’s attempt to silence dissenting voices using the central agencies," A Abdul Sathar, state general secretary, PFI, said.
The hartal would be held from 6 AM to 6 PM, he said in the statement.
Shortly after the news regarding searches by the central government agencies broke out, PFI workers took out marches to the places where the raids were carried out and raised slogans against the Centre and its investigating agencies.
However, central forces were already deployed in all such places as part of strengthening the security.
Protests marches were carried out in almost all districts including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Thrissur, a PFI source was quoted as saying. “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. 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 attacked the Centre and 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 further said the central investigating agencies were trying to create a “smoke screen against the outfits which have been functioning in a democratic manner and 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 public relations stuff used by the outfits for its campaign.