Pune police booked over 60 people linked to the Popular Front of India (PFI) on charges of unlawful assembly and wrongful restraint for allegedly blocking roads as supporters of the organisation staged a protest in the city Friday against nationwide raids and arrest of its leaders on Thursday by central investigation agencies on terrorism charges.
According to the official reports, PFI leaders and workers protested in front of the district collectorate condemning the raids and raised slogans condemning the BJP, the police said. Officers briefly detained 42 people and they were released later at night after being issued warning notices. In the early hours of Saturday, over 60 persons were booked at Bundgarden police station.
Senior Inspector Pratap Mankar, in-charge of Bundgarden police station, said, “An offence has been registered against the 42 people detained and around 20 others. They have been booked under IPC sections pertaining to unlawful assembly and wrongful restraint because they blocked the road, and also on charges of disobeying orders issued by government officials as they held the protest in spite of denial of permission to do so. We have also invoked provisions of the Mumbai Police Act for violation of various law and order rules.”
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), along with state agencies, had on Thursday launched nationwide raids against the PFI across several states in connection with their probe into terrorism and terror-funding charges. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) too had launched a crackdown in the state and conducted raids at 12 places and arrested 20 persons linked to the PFI, including two from Pune.
Together, central and state agencies reportedly arrested over 100 persons, including members of PFI’s national executive committee and state units. In Pune, the NIA and ED raided PFI-linked premises in the Kondhwa area. From early morning on Thursday, the Maharashtra ATS conducted raids in Aurangabad, Pune, Kolhapur, Beed, Parbhani, Nanded Jalgaon, Jalna, Malegaon, Navi Mumbai, Thane, and Mumbai.
Four offences were registered in Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad, and Nanded under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 153A, 121A, 109, 120B and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) section 13-1B for indulging in unlawful activities, promoting enmity amongst communities and for conspiring to wage war against the state. As many as 20 persons connected with the PFI were arrested by the ATS from across Maharashtra, including an IT engineer and a construction businessman who are office bearers of the PFI.
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