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Retired cop among 3 held for ‘PFI links’; Patna SSP likens to RSS, sparks row

Courting controversy, Patna Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Manavjit Singh Dhillon said the accused held meetings and imparted physical training, “just as RSS shakhas are held for physical training and imparting training in wielding lathis”.

Patna, Patna news, Popular Front of India, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsThe accused — identified as Athar Parvez, allegedly a former member of the now banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Mohammed Jalaluddin, a retired sub-inspector of the Jharkhand Police, and Arman Malik — were arrested from Phulwari Sharif area of Patna on Wednesday.

THREE MEN with alleged links to the Popular Front of India (PFI), including a retired Jharkhand Police sub-inspector, have been arrested for being part of a “potential terror module” that sought to target those “who make adverse and objectionable” comments against Islam, police said on Thursday.

Courting controversy, Patna Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Manavjit Singh Dhillon said the accused held meetings and imparted physical training, “just as RSS shakhas are held for physical training and imparting training in wielding lathis”. Objecting to his remarks, the BJP has sought disciplinary action against the SSP.

The accused — identified as Athar Parvez, allegedly a former member of the now banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Mohammed Jalaluddin, a retired sub-inspector of the Jharkhand Police, and Arman Malik — were arrested from Phulwari Sharif area of Patna on Wednesday.

According to police, the arrests were made following intelligence alerts that some people were gathering in Patna to “foment trouble” ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit on Tuesday.

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On Tuesday evening, the police filed an FIR against 26 people, allegedly part of a “potential terror module”, under IPC Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 and 121A (waging war against state), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration). The trio, all residents of Patna, were arrested the next day.

“They had been holding meetings at mosques and madrasas and working towards what is called radicalisation. Just as RSS shakhas are held for physical training and imparting training in wielding lathis, they had been giving physical training to their people. Besides Bihar, some of the named members are from Karnataka also,” Patna SSP Manavjit Singh Dhillon told reporters.

Phulwari Sharif Additional SP Manish Kumar told reporters that Jalaluddin was a retired Jharkhand Police sub-inspector. According to police, the accused said they were looking to expand PFI’s base in Patna.

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In the FIR, Phulwari Sharif police station in-charge Iqrar Ahmed said the police learnt on Monday evening that some people had been given training for a week with possible intention to foment trouble during the PM’s Patna visit. He said they learnt that some people had been living in the area and had been conducting regular meetings – the last one was reportedly on July 7.

According to the FIR, Jalaluddin had rented a part of his house to Parvez for conducting PFI training. Two pamphlets written in English — “India 2047: Towards rule of Islamic India (internal document, not for circulation)” and “Popular Front of India, 20 February, 2021” – were recovered from the premises, said police.

The FIR quoted the pamphlets as saying: “PFI is confident that even if 10 per cent of Muslim population would rally behind it, PFI would subjugate the coward majority communities to their knees and bring back the glory of Islam in India… In the scenario of full-fledged showdown with the state, apart from relying on our PE cadres, we would seek help from friendly Islamic countries…”

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According to the FIR, Parvez told the police that “by linking old members of SIMI with PFI, we are trying to raise a new organisation that would target those who commit atrocities on Muslims and speak against Islam. After the recent abusive comments by (suspended BJP spokesperson) Nupur Sharma, there has been revengeful action from our side with Maharashtra’s Amravati and Rajasthan’s Udaipur incidents”.

“The accused were booked for trying to foment communal tension and disturb peace. We have been looking into the case,” Bihar Additional Director General of Police (headquarters) J S Gangwar told reporters.

In a statement, PFI national secretary Mohamed Shakif said the “allegations are devoid of any substance”. “Police have tried to create an imaginary story of a ‘terror plot’ by planting fake documents. There seems to be a common trend in different states to target the PFI through a uniform modus operandi, which indicates that it is part of a political decision against the organisation coming from a single table. The PFI would like to make it clear that these evil designs to instil fear in the minds of people by demonising the PFI… will not have any effect on the organisation’s democratic struggle for constitutional rights and social justice,” he said.

Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand criticised Patna SSP Manavjit Singh Dhillon for drawing comparisons with the RSS’s shakhas. “It is not a slip of the tongue by the Patna SSP, but a statement given with confidence… with full authority. He deliberately gave the statement to show his political affinity and keep his masters in good humour. The chief minister and Bihar DGP must initiate disciplinary action against him,” he said.

With ENS, Thiruvananthapuram

First published on: 15-07-2022 at 04:55:43 am
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