Over 60 people have been booked by the Pune police for holding protests without permission against the nationwide raids on the Popular Front of India (PFI) and the subsequent arrests of its party cadres.
Earlier, on Friday, police had detained 41 protesters during an agitation held outside the Pune district collectorate, a police official said, as reported by PTI.
“We have registered an offence against more than 60 persons, including 41 who were detained yesterday, for organising a protest without permission, for unlawful assembly and for blocking the road,” senior inspector Pratap Mankar of Bundgarden police station said on Saturday.
The protesters under booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 141, 143 ,145, 147,149 (all pertaining to unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 341 (wrongful restraint), and also under sections the Maharashtra Police Act.
Police said that the organisers were issued a notice not to hold protest, but orders were not followed, and hence they were booked under several sections.
A multi-agency probe led by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which termed it the “largest-ever investigation till date”, on September 22, across 93 locations in 15 states, led to the arrest of over 100 PFI leaders and activists, for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country.
The NIA had said the searches are taking place at the premises of people who are allegedly “involved in terror funding, organising training camps, and radicalising people to join proscribed organisations.”
Kerala accounted for maximum arrests at 22, followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka, with 20 arrests each.
In Kerala, the PFI had called for a 12-hour hartal to protest against the raids and the arrests of its party cadres on Saturday. Violence, including stone-pelting, was reported from several districts of the state.
Calling it an “illegal hartal”, the Kerala High Court had taken a suo motu cognisance of it, as according to a Kerala HC order from January 7, 2019, no one can call for a bandh in the state without prior notice of seven days.
Formed in 2006, the PFI claims to strive for a neo-social movement ostensibly for the empowerment of marginalised sections of India, and is often accused by law enforcement agencies of promoting radical Islam.
Calling it a “witch-hunt”, the PFI, in a statement on September 22, said that it condemned the “nation wide raids by the NIA and ED, the unjust arrests and the harassments of its national and state leaders across India, 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. 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”, said the National Executive Council (NEC) of PFI had said.