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Over 100 Popular Front leaders arrested in anti-terror crackdown across 13 states

National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducts anti-terror crackdown

Over 100 top leaders and functionaries of the Popular Front of India (PFI)  were arrested on Thursday morning in a nationwide crackdown against terrorist activities.

According to sources, the searches were carried out by the National Investigation Agency and Enforcement Directorate at several locations across 13 states including Bihar, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana.

In what is being termed the “largest ever investigation process till date”, sources in the NIA said that searches were conducted in the residential and official premises of people involved in terror funding, organising training camps and radicalising people to join proscribed organisations.

The maximum number of arrests were made in Kerala (22) followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka (20 each), Andhra Pradesh (5), Assam (9), Delhi (3), Madhya Pradesh (4), Puducherry (3), Tamil Nadu (10), Uttar Pradesh (8) and Rajasthan (2).

Sources further said that the Union Home Ministry was monitoring the entire crackdown which was being carried out with the support of the local police in the various states.

According to the charge-sheet filed by the ED, PFI has formed District Executive Committee in UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other places to raise funds. Targets are given to individuals to collect cash and transfer the same through Hawala or camouflaged as genuine business transactions.

The ED during investigation analysed more than 600 domestic contributors and their bank accounts and also looked at accounts of more than 2,600 beneficiaries. The agency has found that many of these accounts were bogus and people on ground were not found during physical verification, the agency stated.

One of the beneficiaries of this money was Anshad Baseudeen. He was arrested by UP ATS with IED’s, pistol and live cartridges. PFI has transferred Rs. 3.5 lakh from the account of PFI. This shows PFI was involved in terror activities, the ED stated in the charge-sheet.

The NIA had, earlier this week, carried out searches at over 40 locations in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana linked to PFI, following which four people were detained. Incriminating materials, including digital devices, documents, two daggers, and cash worth over Rs 8 lakh had been seized.

Meanwhile, PFI members staged protests in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka against the arrests.

“The raids are taking place at the homes of national, state and local leaders of PFI. The state committee office is also being raided. We strongly protest the fascist regime’s moves to use agencies to silence dissenting voices,” the PFI said in a statement.

Also Read: PFI’s vicious circle of friends from Turkey and Pakistan to Al Qaeda and ISIS