The Uttar Pradesh Police have arrested 108 members of the Popular Front of India in the past four days for their alleged association with the anti-Citizenship Act protests, PTI reported on Monday.
“This is just the beginning,” said Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi. “We will get to the roots of the organisation. A probe is also going on about their financial dealings. We are in touch with central agencies and are sharing information with them.” These arrests were made in addition to the 25 people held earlier, he said, adding that the state was the first to take such action against the organisation.
Out of the 108 held from several districts for their links to the anti-CAA protests, 21 were arrested from Meerut, 20 in Varanasi, 16 in Bahraich, 14 people were held in Lucknow, nine in Ghaziabad, seven in Shamli. Six people were arrested in Muzaffarnagar district, five in Kanpur, four in Bijnore, three in Sitapur, and one each in Hapur, Jaunpur, and Gonda.
On whether the police had information about the organisation’s financial transactions from the Enforcement Directorate, Director General of Police Hitesh Chandra Awasthi said that they were “collecting evidence”.
Last month, senior lawyers Kapil Sibal, Indira Jaising and Dushyant Dave had refuted claims that they had received money from the Popular Front of India in connection with the protests.
Following the protests against the amended Citizenship Act in December, Uttar Pradesh Police had sought a ban on the PFI, a week after its chief and several other leaders were arrested in connection with violence. In 2006, the group was created in Kerala as a successor to the National Democratic Front. Security agencies have claimed that the group’s leaders had been groomed with Students’ Islamic Movement of India ideology.
The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. Twenty-six people died during protests in December against the law – all in the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam. Two people were killed after violence erupted during protests in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district on January 29.