Maharashtra DGP Rajnish Seth on Wednesday directed police personnel across the state to seal the offices of Popular Front of India (PFI) and freeze their bank accounts. The PFI was banned by the Union government earlier in the day following days of raids and arrests of people linked to the outfit.
“Search and seizure operations will take place immediately at all the offices and other known properties linked to the PFI. The locations of some of their offices – mainly in Pune, Aurangabad and Beed – are known and swift action will follow,” a senior IPS officer said.
If anyone tries to obstruct the police in performing duty or if anyone is found to be a member of PFI, they could face arrest under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the officer added. “Any incriminating material found at any of PFI offices will be seized. After the operation is complete, a report will be given to the district magistrate.”
Officers conducting these operations were apprised of UAPA sections 7 and 8, under which they are to carry out search and seizure. These sections give the investigators power to prohibit the use of funds of an unlawful association and to notify places used for its purpose. The police can enter the premises of a person found to be in possession of funds linked to the organisation and examine the records related to the finances.
The provisions also state that the district magistrate or an authorised officer can notify places linked to the organisation, requiring them to make a list of the movable properties found in such a place. The police can also search and detain a person entering or intending to enter the premises.
Soon after the Centre banned the organisation, the DGP office received a notification delegating the powers of Union government officials to state officials under UPA. Following this, the DGP held a meeting in the evening.
An officer said that so far, action like arrests and preventive measures have been taken against 68 people in the state. Preventive actions included signing bonds of good behaviour and externment. The officer added that so far, while 21 people have been arrested by the state ATS, 15 have been arrested by district police units.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Wednesday welcomed the decision to ban PFI, saying it has come to light that the organisation was planning “something serious” in Maharashtra.
“The PFI and its allied organisations were found to be involved in serious crimes. The organisation recently became active in terror funding, murders, insulting the Constitution, disturbing the social harmony and unity of the country. It has also surfaced that the organisation was planning something serious in Maharashtra as well,” Shinde said in Nashik.
Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said that the Centre’s decision would empower state governments to act strongly against the outfit. “The PFI had adopted a new strategy, which entailed smaller funding through multiple bank accounts to carry out its activities across states and India. The PFI is a silent killer,” he told mediapersons in Mumbai.
WITH PTI INPUTS