NIA arrests 250 Muslims across India in further persecution of Muslim group PFI
Police across India arrested nearly 250 Muslims in eight cities in a second round of raids on the Popular Front of India (PFI), a Muslim organization, on Tuesday. Many were arrested from their homes. Those arrested include district presidents, secretaries and treasurers.
The raids were carried out and arrests were made by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has been the weapon of choice for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government to carry out large-scale persecution of Muslims in India.
The raids and arrests occurred in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam, Delhi, Maharashtra, Telangana, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh.
Last week over 100 PFI members were arrested by the NIA and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is a division of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs that focuses on financial crimes, for allegedly “supporting terror activities in the country.”
Karnataka has seen the largest number of arrests between the two raids. The state’s Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said the process to impose a permanent ban on the PFI had already begun.
The crackdown on PFI has been widely condemned by civil rights groups.
Kerala state’s ruling party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), on Tuesday, said imposing a ban on an extremist organization or a communal force would not put an end to its activities. It added that if such a step has to be taken then the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Nazi-inspired paramilitary that is the ideological parent of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), should first be banned.
Prominent activist Shahin Kausar, a leader of anti-CAA protests, also arrested
Shahin Kausar, a prominent protester against India’s anti-Muslim Citizenship (Amendment) Act, was also arrested in New Delhi as part of the widespread persecution by the Modi government.
Kausar was picked up from her residence as the NIA and local police raided her house at 3 am. Police have said Kausar was linked to the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), which is the PFI’s political arm.
Kausar and other PFI members were reportedly planning a roadblock to protest the crackdown.
Magsaysay Award-winning activist Sandeep Pandey released after wide condemnation
Renowned social activist Sandeep Pandey, who is a winner of the prestigious Magsaysay Award of the Philippines, was released by police in Gujarat after widespread condemnation.
Pandey was among four people arrested on Monday just before they were to start their march to express their solidarity with Bilkis Bano, a Muslim woman who was gang-raped and left for dead in an anti-Muslim pogrom in that state in 2002.
On August 15, 2022, India’s Independence Day, the Gujarat government, which, too, is run by Modi’s Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), released all her rapists by commuting their life sentences. These rapists had also murdered 14 members of Bano’s family, including her three-year-old daughter and Bano’s mother.
Pandey’s march, named “‘Bilkis Bano Amne Maaf Karo’ (Bilkis Bano, please forgive us), was organized by members of the Hindu-Muslim Ekta Samiti, including Pandey and his co-accused. It was set to start on Monday, September 26 and conclude on October 4.
Police allege they were taken into custody because the organization took out the rally without permission. They were denied permission due to a “law and order” problem.
The Samiti condemned the police action, saying the march was organized to “apologize to Bilkis Bano for the release of her 11 rapists.
Pandey and the men arrested with him are expected to continue with the march.