Violent PFI protests in Kerala against NIA raids, 500 people arrested; Attack on RSS office

A day-long strike called by Islamist organization Popular Front of India (PFI) in Kerala on Friday saw stone-pelting on public transport buses, damage to shops, vehicles and violence in some places in the state. Incidents have been seen. There are also reports of petrol bombs being hurled at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) office in Mattanur, Kannur. 500 people have been arrested and over 400 detained in Kerala amid protests.

The PFI had called for a strike today to protest the raids on Thursday on PFI offices and premises linked to its leaders by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other agencies on charges of supporting terrorist activities in the country. Strike supporters took out demonstration marches, stopped vehicles and forcibly closed shops at various places where the organization’s position is strong.

Apart from the policemen, some bus and lorry drivers and passengers suffered injuries in stone pelting and related incidents. The Kerala High Court has taken cognizance of the PFI strike and the incidents of violence in the state today. The court said that it has already banned the strike and damage to public property will not be accepted.

Policemen collided with their bike

The court directed the state administration to take strict action against those violating its order banning the strike. In Erattupeta town of Kottayam district, police resorted to lathi-charge when protesters gathered in large numbers tried to stop their vehicles, shut down shops and threatened people traveling in private vehicles. More and more police personnel have been deployed in and around the city as there is concern in the area. At Pallimukku in Kollam, a strike supporter allegedly rammed two policemen on patrolling duty with his bike as they tried to stop him from harassing commuters.

Several buses were badly damaged in the demonstration

Stones were pelted on Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses in various districts including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Alappuzha. Several buses were badly damaged. His glasses were broken and the seat was damaged. However, Transport Minister Antony Raju said the service would not be stopped in view of the widespread attacks against KSRTC buses. “Our intention is to provide maximum service to the passengers who are facing difficulties in travel due to the strike,” he said. Police will definitely take action against those involved in violence and vandalism. In Alappuzha, KSRTC buses, tanker lorries and some other vehicles were reported damaged in stone pelting by people supporting the strike.

March was taken out at the raided places

The PFI on Thursday said it would go on strike across the state on Friday to protest against the “attempts by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-controlled fascist government to silence the opponents by misusing the central agencies”. PFI state general secretary A Abdul Sattar had issued a statement saying that the strike would be held from 6 am to 6 pm. Earlier, PFI workers on Thursday took out a march at the places where the raids were conducted. They also raised slogans against the central government and its investigative agencies. However, central forces were already deployed at all such places with the intention of strengthening the security arrangements.

Raids in 15 states, 106 arrests

Several agencies led by the NIA on Thursday arrested 106 office-bearers of the PFI in simultaneous raids at 93 locations in 15 states on charges of supporting terrorist activities in the country. Officials had said that Kerala, where the PFI has some strongholds, had the highest number of arrests at 22. Those arrested include PFI’s Kerala unit president CP Mohammed Basheer, national president O M A Salaam, national secretary Nasruddin Elmaram, former president E Abubakar and others.

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