NIA arrests former Kerala PFI secretary CA Rauf from his residence in Pattambi 

CA Rauf, said to be hind the violent hartal in Kerala after the NIA raids on PFI, was in hiding in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

BySreerag PS

Published Oct 28, 2022 | 2:49 PMUpdatedOct 28, 2022 | 4:09 PM

PFI hartal

In an early morning swoop, the National Investigating Agency (NIA) on Friday, 28 October arrested CA Rauf, the absconding former Kerala secretary of the recently-banned pan-Indian radical Islamic organisation Popular Front of India (PFI), from his residence in Karimpully, Pattambi, in Palakkad district. He has been taken to Kochi for interrogation.

Both the Kerala police and the NIA had been searching for Rauf even before the ban on the PFI and its affiliates was announced on 28 September.

Rauf, the 12th accused in the remand report submitted by the investigating agency, is believed to have been behind the state-wide hartal and the resultant violence on 23 September, a day after the NIA raided the PFI and its affiliates across the country and took over 40 leaders into custody.

Rauf is alleged to have orchestrated the hartal along with 3rd accused Abdul Sathar.

CA Raoof speaking at a PFI event in early September. (Supplied)

In the remand report, Rauf is alleged by the investigating agency of conspiring to establish an Islamic republic in India through violent means.

According to reports in the media, Rauf was hiding in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka these past few weeks.

However, the NIA kept a close watch on his residence and arrested him when he arrived there.

On 30 September, the NIA’s search at Rauf’s residence had created a controversy as the local people staged a protest against the investigating agency.

Related: The Story of the Popular Front of India

Centre’s ban on PFI

On 28 September, the Union government invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to ban the PFI. Eight affiliate outfits of PFI, including its student wing Campus Front of India, were also deemed “unlawful” for five years.

The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) — the PFI’s political wing — was, however, not deemed unlawful or banned. SDPI is a registered political party and only the Election Commission of India can initiate action against it.

The ban on the PFI came barely a week after a multi-agency operation spearheaded by the NIA had raided 93 locations associated with PFI in 15 states and arrested most of its frontal leaders.

A hartal was staged against the arrests of PFI leaders in the state.

The protests had turned violent, causing damage to property, including to state-run KSRTC buses. This led the Kerala High Court to penalise the organisation to the extent of ₹5.20 crore.