The PUNE City Police Tuesday arrested six persons linked to the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its affiliate Social Democratic Party of Indian (SDPI) as a “preventive measure”. A court later ordered the six arrested to stay outside Pune city limits till October 5.
On September 22, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Enforcement Directorate and investigation agnecies from various states conducted nationwide searches and arrests of leaders and members of the PFI and its affiliate outfits under terrorism charges. More than 100 people were arrested across 15 states on September 22. The NIA continued the crackdown on Tuesday and detained several persons from half a dozen states, including Maharashtra.
A press statement issued by the Pune Police Tuesday evening said, “Earlier, various agencies including the NIA and Maharashtra ATS took action against the PFI. With this backdrop, a preventive action was taken against six persons linked to the PFI and its affiliate SDPI to maintain law and order.”
The six persons have been identified by Pune Police as Abdul Aziz Bansal, Maaz Faizan Shaikh, Kashif Nazeer Shaikh, Mohammed Qais Anwar Shaikh, Dilawar Kareem Sayyed and Aymul Rasheed Momin, all residents of Kondhwa. The arrested persons were later produced before a court in Pune and ordered to stay outside city limits till October 5.
The arrest was made under Criminal Procedure Code section 151(3), which is a Maharashtra specific amendment in section 151 of the code. The provision empowers the officer in-charge of a police station to arrest a person if the person is likely to continue the design to commit or is likely to commit a cognizable offence.
A series of agitations by PFI members and supporters broke out in the country to condemn the massive nationwide searches on the premises linked to the outfit and the arrest of its members on September 22. The protest in Pune was held in front of the district collector’s office on September 23 afternoon.
A number of videos of PFI protests surfaced on social media platforms on September 24, accompanied by claims that ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans were chanted during the agitation. Pune police have launched a probe into the allegations.
Police initially registered an offence against the protesters who were charged with unlawful assembly and wrongful restraint for blocking the road. Police later invoked various sections of Indian Penal Code 153A (promoting enmity between groups), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 109 (abetment).