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Uttar Pradesh Police Launches Crackdown On PFI, 70 Detained For Questioning

The government of India invoked Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act’s Section 3, to ban the contentious PFI in September last year

Representative image of UP Police
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The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) has launched an operation against banned organisation Popular Front of India (PFI) in the state and detained 70 people for questioning in many districts.

The ATS conducted a 'one-day special campaign' at the state level on May 6, to identify suspects associated with the banned organisation. About 211 suspects have been identified, UP police said in a press release.

"In-depth interrogation of the suspected persons is going on, as well as data analysis of electronic gadgets is also being done to know about anti-national activities and social media activities," the police said. Out of the suspects who were identified, 70 have been brought to the ATS unit or concerned police station for questioning. 

Among those who were picked up include prominent lawyer and activist Mohammad Shoaib (75 years old) who was taken away around 7.15 am by a group of police personnel, his wife Malka Bi said in a letter to the Aminabad police station in Lucknow. She said the officials did not tell her why they picked Shoaib up. The said personnel were in plain clothes and did not reveal their identity, Malka Bi also said in the letter.

Shoaib is the founder of an organisation named Rihai Manch, which offers legal assistance to marginalised communities. He was earlier arrested in December 2019 in connection with protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. He was granted bail on January 15, 2020. He has been suffering from a heart disease and high blood pressure for the last 15 years, his wife said in the letter.

The police also arrested two 'wanted accused' during the one-day campaign -- Parvez Ahmed and Raees Ahmed, for whom a cash bounty of Rs 50,000 each was also declared. "Both the accused were working to rapidly spread the radical ideology of the banned organisation," the police said in the press release. The latter has been accused of being involved in 'anti-national activities by PFI' since the unrest caused by CAA/NRC. 

The government of India invoked Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act’s Section 3, to ban the contentious PFI in September last year. The organisation has been under the scanner of security and investigative agencies for years and its name has come up in crimes for almost a decade. It has grown in numbers and influence in recent years and has been at the helm of mass movements against Narendra Modi's Union government, such as the anti-CAA protests.

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