Stone pelting at buses, cops injured during PFI's Kerala bandh
A day after investigation agencies raided over 100 Popular Front of India (PFI) leaders' premises across India, the controversial organization is conducting a dawn-to-dusk strike in Kerala. Scheduled to be held from 6 am to 6 pm on Friday, the massive hartal has reportedly already witnessed stone pelting at buses, petrol bombs being hurled at citizens, and burning of tires on roads. Here's more.
- The PFI is reportedly an extremist Islamic organization, founded by members of the banned terrorist organization Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
- On Thursday, raids were conducted under charges of promoting terrorism, but PFI has called it a targeted attack on minorities.
- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said that PFI allegedly trains people to commit terrorist acts and fuels communal divide.
According to Onmanorma, the state-wide hartal began on Friday morning and saw few incidents of property damage. Protesters allegedly damaged the windows of two Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses in Alappuzha and reportedly hurled a petrol bomb at a newspaper delivery vehicle in Kannur. Tires were burnt in Wayanad. Additionally, stone pelting was reported in Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Wayanad, and Kozhikode.
Kochi, Kerala | A KSRTC bus was vandalised allegedly by people supporting the one-day bandh called by PFI today, in Companypadi near Aluva pic.twitter.com/XZqhiAxTDL— ANI (@ANI) September 23, 2022
Stones were hurled at KSRTC buses in Kozhikode and the drivers have reportedly received injuries. In Thiruvananthapuram, 15 protesters who allegedly vandalized shops were detained. Meanwhile, two policemen were injured in Kollam after a group of protesters attacked them, Onmanorma reported. Notably, the Kerala Police has ordered strict action against those who close shops by force and has prohibited supporters from gathering in public.
Unrest in Trivandrum,Ernakulam, Kollam, Kozhikode districts of #Kerala after the #PFI members call for #harthal condemning the mega #NIARaid happened yesterday.— Sanjeevee sadagopan (@sanjusadagopan) September 23, 2022
Interdistrict Vehicular movement disrupted. Heavy police force deployed in important junctions. #PFIRaids pic.twitter.com/4E1bey8yAu
Araga Jnanendra, Karnataka Home Minister said that the process to ban the "controversial" PFI has begun, but the Centre is taking time. About 18 places linked to PFI were raided in Karnataka on Thursday. "As many as 15 people were picked up for questioning and seven people were arrested by the NIA. FIRs have been registered and further investigation is going on," Jnanendra said.
According to reports, MG University, Kerala University, and Kannur University postponed exams scheduled for Friday in the wake of PFI's strike. The Kerala University also postponed the B.Ed spot allotment scheduled to be held on Friday. The Kerala Public Services Commission, however, will be conducting exams as per schedule on Friday. One auto-rickshaw and car were also damaged during the protests in Thiruvananthapuram.
The NIA conducted joint raids with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday and detained PFI chairman OMA Salam, national secretary Nasadaruddin Elamaram, and Kerala chief Mohammed Basheer. In a statement, PFI slammed the arrests as misuse of "state machinery" and an attempt to "silence dissenting voices." According to The Indian Express, 24 top PFI leaders have been arrested after NIA searches at 35 premises.