Numerous members of a Muslim organisation were detained by Indian authorities on Tuesday after they were accused of engaging in violent and anti-national behaviour.
The arrests come after a crackdown on the Popular Front of India (PFI) earlier this month in which roughly 100 members were imprisoned. The PFI has protested in the streets and denounced the detentions and associated raids as harassment.
After what it dubbed “huge arrests” on Tuesday, PFI posted on Twitter, “This is nothing but the prevention of the right to democratic protests against the central government’s witch-hunt targeting PFI and is totally natural and expected under this dictatorial regime.”
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.#StandWithPopularFront
— Popular Front of India (@PFIOfficial) September 27, 2022
According to police in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, 57 people with ties to the PFI were detained on Tuesday as a result of “violent crimes committed by them and their escalating anti-national activities around the country.”
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Days after he requested a ban on the PFI, Assam’s chief minister told reporters that similar detentions had taken place in that state in the northeast.
The federal National Investigation Agency arrested some PFI members earlier this month after conducting raids at locations in the states of Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. They were accused of setting up training camps for “committing terrorist acts” or engaging in “anti-national activities.”
The PFI has backed causes such as public demonstrations against a 2019 citizenship law that many Muslims deem to be prejudiced.
13 percent of India’s 1.4 billion population are Muslims, and many of them have complained about marginalisation under the leadership of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The BJP refutes the accusations and cites statistics showing that Modi’s emphasis on social welfare and economic development benefits all Indians, regardless of religion.