Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI – The Popular Front of India (PFI) said on Monday that the fresh round of arrests of its supporters by the Uttar Pradesh Police was nothing but taking out of its ‘revenge’ – a term used in dealing with anti-CAA protests by state CM Yogi Adityanath –against the organisation.
Claiming that the PFI has only an ad-hoc committee in UP, the activist organisation alleged this was an attempt to create a “wrong record” against the PFI. The PFI had sought a high-level judicial inquiry into the violence, through a recent PIL filed in the Allahabad high court. The PFI said the police arrested and beat up family members of the petitioner, Mufti Shahzad.
Two days ago, the Popular Front’s UP state ad-hoc committee convener Waseem Ahmed was released from jail, but the UP police on Monday arrested 108 persons, dubbing them as members of the PFI. The PFI said it only has an adhoc committee in UP with nine members.
The front’s national executive council member EM Abdul Rahman told Caravan Daily that the PFI condemned the fresh round of arrests and the state has been witnessing the worst type of police atrocities since the anti-CAA protests erupted into the streets on December 12. He said that the ad hoc committee’s three members were arrested. They were its convener Waseem Ahmed and members Nadeem Ahmad and Mohammad Ashfaq. They were granted bail by the local courts and released from the jail.
Abdul Rahman said the main reason behind the fresh arrests in UP was the petition filed by the PFI in the high court. The police wanted to project the PFI as a trouble-maker, before the next hearing of the case posted for February 17, after the court sought a response from the Yogi government.
He said the PIL filed by PFI ad hoc committee member Shahzad before the high court was heard on January 27 before the Special Bench headed by the Chief Justice. The prayer therein was for a judicial probe by a sitting or retired Supreme Court judge or high court judge into the violent incidents during the anti-CAA protests, mainly as to who orchestrated it and with what motive.
The bench asked the public prosecutor why was it that not a single case was filed against the “delinquent” police officers; and there was no reply. “In order to create false records, the UP police started the second round of arrests in which hundreds of Muslims were sent to jail on cooked-up charges and dubbing them as PFI members. “Not only arrests, the family members of petitioner Mufti Shahzad including women and elders were also beaten up and threatened by the police,” he said.
The victims who sent complaints against the police excesses in many places including Shamil, Kairana, and Meerut were also threatened and manhandled by the police, the PFI said.
In the first round of arrests in December, when thousands of Muslims were arrested, around 25 of them had been named as PFI activists. Rehman made it clear that the PFI has thousands of supporters but only a few members. As many as 25 accused were granted bail including UP state convener of PFI, Waseem Ahmad, he said.
Rehman claimed that the UP police failed to furnish any evidence on the alleged involvement of PFI members in the violence during the anti-CAA protests. “It is a fact that the PFI had never believed in any sort of violence and had never involved in violence since it came to existence 15 years ago,” he said.
The PFI leader also claimed that the organisation had always strictly adhered to the laws of the land and undertook struggles in a peaceful and democratic manner. The UP police, on the other hand, violated law and engaged in violence, and also killed 23 innocent people in indiscriminate firings. Rehman added that in spite of threats and intimidation, the PFI would continue its legal struggle to expose the real face of the UP government.