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PFI’s history in Pune: Posters against Babri demolition to ‘links with Elgaar Parishad’

On December 10, 2009, the special operation wing of Pune City Police had arrested web designer Sadiq Qureshi, the then Maharashtra state convener of PFI, for putting up “inflammatory” posters in Urdu ahead of the 17th anniversary of the destruction of Babri Masjid.

Popular Front of India, PFI Pune, PFI’s history in Pune, Elgaar Parishad, Pune news, Pune city news, Pune, Maharashtra, Maharashtra government, India news, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsMore recently, according to Pune City Police report, PFI was among the organisations that supported Elgaar Parishad, a conclave held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which is being probed for its alleged links with banned outfit CPI-Maoist.

The Popular Front of India (PFI), which was banned by the Centre for five years on Wednesday, has been active in Pune city for more than a decade. Founded in 2006, PFI slowly expanded its network in Maharashtra, with Pune emerging as one of its most important centres. Some of its local leaders have also faced police action in the last few years.

On December 10, 2009, the special operation wing of Pune City Police had arrested web designer Sadiq Qureshi, the then Maharashtra state convener of PFI, for putting up “inflammatory” posters in Urdu ahead of the 17th anniversary of the destruction of Babri Masjid.

Three more persons associated with PFI and its political outfit, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), were also placed under arrest. PFI office-bearers had claimed there was nothing wrong with the posters and police were “framing” the accused. Police had told the court they wanted to probe the intentions, network and sources of funding of the accused.

In August 2010, Pune City Police arrested software engineer Mohammed Sajid Qureshi, a state- level PFI leader and his aide Samsher Pathan, for allegedly trying to “spread communal tension” in the city by putting up posters about bomb blasts which have “Hindutva hand” behind them. The posters carried pictures of various blasts and claimed that Hindu groups were involved in 10 blasts across India. PFI had questioned the police action, saying the posters were part of its campaign to highlight that Hindu groups were allegedly involved in the blasts, ahead of August 9, the anniversary of Quit India movement.

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More recently, according to Pune City Police report, PFI was among the organisations that supported Elgaar Parishad, a conclave held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which is being probed for its alleged links with banned outfit CPI-Maoist.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Pune Municipal Corporation had appointed some private organisations, including the PFI, for carrying out cremations. The agreement with PFI was cancelled after members of the BJP wrote to PMC authorities in June 2020.

In March 2021, city police had booked PFI members for allegedly organising a programme called ‘beginner’s course’ in Kondhwa without seeking permission and violating Covid-19 restrictions

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Pune City Police is also probing allegations of pro-Pakistan slogans raised during a protest organised by PFI in the city on September 23 to condemn the nationwide action against the outfit by NIA, ED and other agencies. The Maharashtra ATS has also arrested 20 people linked to PFI, including two from Pune last week. Four offences were registered in this regard at Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad, and Nanded under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Mohammed Quis Anwar Shaikh, the Pune district president of PFI, has condemned the action.

First published on: 29-09-2022 at 03:46 IST
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