New Delhi, Sep 27 (EFE).- Police in several Indian states on Monday arrested dozens of members of the Muslim organization Popular Front of India on terror charges, continuing a crackdown that had already resulted in around 50 detentions over the past week.
The PFI has rejected the charges and accused the authorities of “witch-hunting” those critical of the Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
More than 80 members of the group and its affiliate Social Democratic Party of India were on Monday arrested in the southern state of Karnataka, police officials told local media outlets.
Security forces carried out similar operations in several states, such as capital New Delhi, the western state of Maharashtra and northeastern Assam.
In Madhya Pradesh or the central province, 21 people were arrested in raids.
Monday’s arrests come after the National Investigation Agency had arrested 45 people linked with the PFI last week.
In a statement, the agency accused PFI leaders of being “involved in funding of terrorism and terrorist activities, organizing training camps for providing armed training and radicalizing people to join banned organizations.
The arrests were made after five cases were registered against the Muslim group, including a charge of supporting the Islamic State terror group.
Both the PFI and SDPI – which held protests against the arrests last week – have termed the arrests a witch-hunt.
“Massive arrests are going on in d BJP ruled states in d name of Preventive Custody. This is nothing but Prevention of d Right to democratic protests against d Central govt’s witch-hunt. Targeting PFI is Quite natural & expected under this autocratic system,” the PFI tweeted.
Last week, SDPI president MK Faizy had stressed that this was an attempt to silence voices critical of BJP’s Hindutva ideology, which puts Hinduism at the center of the idea of India, while relegating minorities to a secondary place.
The PFI was established in 2007 after the merger of three Muslim groups active in southern India: the National Democratic Front of Kerala, the Forum for Dignity in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu’s Manitha Neethi Pasarai.
The organization formed the SDPI in 2009 and claims to work for the rights of Muslims and other marginalized communities in India, although it has been accused of promoting extremism by groups such as the BJP.
The BJP-led Karnataka government recently accused the PFI of inciting Muslim students to wear the Islamic veil, after a ban on this garment triggered protests in the region earlier this year. EFE