Prominent Muslim leaders among over 100 arrested on bogus terror charges
In a massive crackdown on India’s Muslim community, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Thursday arrested at least 100 leaders of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and eminent Muslim figures as part of the searches conducted at the PFI’s offices and houses of state and district level leaders across 11 states.
According to news agency PTI, the NIA officials termed the searches “largest-ever investigation process till date”. Arrests were made from Andhra Pradesh (5), Assam (9), Delhi (3), Karnataka (20), Kerala (25), Madhya Pradesh (4), Maharashtra (20), Puducherry (3), Rajasthan (2), Tamil Nadu (10) and Uttar Pradesh (8).
PFI national chairman OMA Salam, vice chairman E.M Abdul Rahiman, national secretary Nasarudheen Elamaram and Kerala unit president CP Muhammad Basheer were taken into custody from several parts of Kerala.
Leading Muslim figures such as former PFI chief and SDPI’s founder president Erappungal Abubacker and veteran journalist and National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO) general secretary professor P Koya were also arrested by anti-terror agencies from Kerala.
Several detained during the raid by NIA were produced before the Patiala House Court in New Delhi on Thursday evening while five arrested members of PFI were brought to a session court in Mumbai today by the ATS team. More details are awaited.
The probe agency also arrested PFI’s Delhi chief Parvez Ahmed and his brother from Okhla at 3.30 am on Thursday morning.
About 1,500 personnel from state police, NIA, ED, and other agencies were involved in the raids which began at 1 am and are said to have concluded by 5 am, as per ANI, a news agency.
Two days ago, 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.
The PFI’s National Executive Council (NEC) condemned the nationwide raids by the NIA and ED and called the arrests of national and state leaders across India “unjust” and “the witch-hunt against the members, and supporters of the organization.”
“NIA’s baseless claims and sensationalism are solely aimed at creating an atmosphere of terror,” it said. “Popular Front will never be intimidated by such scare tactics by a totalitarian regime that uses the central agencies as its puppets. The organization will stand firm on its stand and the struggle for recovering the democratic values and spirit of the constitution of our beloved country.”
Muslim groups led by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind condemn PFI raids, arrests
Several Muslim groups on Thursday condemned the arrests of PFI leaders and the raids on PFI offices and the homes of its leaders.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) President Syed Sadatullah Husaini said: “The manner in which NIA and ED have made simultaneous raids across the country, targeting PFI, raises lots of questions for our society to answer. The operation becomes suspicious particularly in the backdrop of several actions by central government agencies against opposition groups and leaders in the last few years.”
He added: “The action becomes questionable also because of the fact that action is not being taken against several groups openly indulging in hate mongering and violence. Hence, these raids raise uncomfortable questions for society. Are the raids meant to appease a particular constituency? If that is the case then is it not a kind of appeasement and vote-bank politics?”
K. Faizy, National President of the Social Democratic Party of India, slammed the raids, saying, “The craven fascist regime that has completely failed in the development of the nation is creating a shadow enemy of the country to cover up their failure in governance.”
“Resist state terror,” read a poster by Solidarity Youth Movement Kerala, condemning the raids and arrests. The Welfare Party of India Kerala unit president Hameed Vaniyambalam urged its members and the public to raise voices against the raids and arrests: “ED, NIA, the tools Sangh Parivar government is spreading Islamophobia.”
Campus Front of India, the PFI’s student wing, called the raids “an attempt to suppress democratic voices.”
Hindu supremacist government in Uttar Pradesh announces survey of Waqf properties
Days after announcing it would survey madrassas (Islamic schools) in the state, the Uttar Pradesh government has now decided to undertake a probe of all the properties recorded under Waqf.
The state government has asked district administrations to undertake a survey of such properties and submit the reports within a month.
According to the official spokesman, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered the investigation of all properties that were registered after ‘flouting the 1995 Waqf Act or under a government order passed in April 1989 which allowed the registration of Usar, Banjar & Bhita lands as Waqf property’.
Shakeel Ahmed, deputy secretary in the Yogi Adityanath government, has written a letter to the Minority Welfare Department, Director & Survey Commissioner of Minority Welfare, District Minority Welfare officers, CEO Shia & Sunni Waqf Board and Revenue officials regarding the matter.
It is claimed that the government is keen on stopping the illegal possession and transfer of properties related to Waqf.
Earlier this month, the Uttar Pradesh government started surveying the unaffiliated madrasas and issued instructions to the district magistrates regarding the surveys.
After 10 days of hearing, Supreme Court reserves order on Karnataka hijab ban
After 10 days of hearing, the Supreme Court on Thursday reserved the judgment on a clutch of pleas challenging the Karnataka High Court verdict which refused to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions of the state.
A bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia reserved the judgment after hearing the arguments from the counsel representing the state government, teachers, and the petitioners, who moved the apex court challenging the high court judgment.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing some petitioners, said the hijab was essential for the believers.
The Karnataka government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court there was no restriction on wearing hijab on the school campus. It was only restricted in the classroom while defending its decision to disallow hijab in classrooms of pre-university colleges. The state government said it had not touched on any “religious aspect” in the hijab ban row.