In a crackdown against the banned outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), multiple raids across India by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Thursday.
The raids were being conducted against PFI activists and sympathisers being probed for alleged involvement in organising terror camps and recruiting youth to join terror activities.
The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) conducted raids in 12 districts across the state, including Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai arresting 20 people affiliated to PFI under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
In near-simultaneous raids across the length and breadth of the country, a multi-agency operation spearheaded by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) led to the arrest of 106 PFI activists in 11 states for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country, including 20 suspects in 12 districts of Maharashtra.
The arrests were made during the raids have been termed as the "largest-ever investigation process till date" by the NIA.
The raids were conducted early morning at Maharashtra's Aurangabad, Pune, Kolhapur, Beed, Parbhani, Nanded, Jalgaon, Jalna, Malegaon, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Mumbai leading to the arrest of 20 functionaries connected to PFI on charges of indulging in unlawful activities, promoting enmity among communities, and conspiring to wage war against the State.
“The raids were conducted based on the evidence collected so far and four cases have been registered in Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad and Nanded districts,” confirmed a senior Maharashtra ATS official.
Simultaneous raids carried out across 11 states led to the arrest of as many as 100 people linked to the PFI.
Several dozens of arrests were made across the country with the highest in Kerala (22) followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka (20 each), Tamil Nadu (10), Assam (9), Uttar Pradesh (8), Andhra Pradesh (5), Madhya Pradesh (4), Delhi (3), Puducherry (3), and Rajasthan (2).
The suspects were booked under sections 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 121 (A) (conspiracy to overthrow the Central or any State government by use of criminal force), 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language) of the Indian Penal Code, and section 13(1) (b) (advocating, abetting, advising or inciting the commission of unlawful activity) of the UAPA.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, five accused members of PFI were sent to ATS custody for 5 days, while in Delhi, the Patiala House Court remanded 18 accused to 4-day NIA custody.
In Delhi, Patiala House Court on Thursday remanded 18 arrested accused associated with PFI to 4-day NIA custody after several accused were detained and produced before the court.