CHENNAI: The nation-wide raids conducted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) at the offices of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and the houses of their office-bearers on Thursday triggered a series of angry reactions by various leaders and activists and protests at many places in State, where 10 persons were reportedly arrested.
The State President of SDPI Nellai Mubarak described the searches conducted at various premises as ‘fake’ and the charges made out against PFI leaders as ‘false’ and alleged that women leaders were harassed during the raids carried out without any women police personnel.
He accused the BJP government of conducting the raids without the knowledge of the State police and by roping in the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel for protection to the officials from the NIA and ED.
Referring to the raid at the residence of State SDPI secretary Najma Begum in Madurai, Mubarak said that the officials had brought in a sack full of currency notes to the house and then wanted the family to sign a declaration that the cash was seized from them.
When Begum and her husband protested against it, they were threatened and prevented from feeding the one-year-old baby that was wailing in hunger, he said.
Demanding the release of Begum’s husband Idhris, he said the raids were aimed at intimidating all democratic forces that were working for justice, equality and the welfare of minorities. The SDPI would spearhead an agitation against the raids aimed at intimidating the people.
Many other political leaders like M H Jawahariullah, who heads the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi and is a sitting MLA, Naam Tamilar Katchi chief coordinator Seeman, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO) president A Marx and TMMK leader Hyder Ali also came out heavily on the Union Government for the raids on premises connected with the PFI.
The Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO), in a statement, said the nation-wide crackdown was meant to criminalize dissent and curtailing freedoms. It was another instance of the government abusing the power of investigating agencies to clamp down on dissent and opposition, it said.
Seeman described the raids as vindictive action against the PFI and SDPI, which were functioning as democratic organisations and working against communalism. The raids and the arrests of the leaders were part of the conspiracy of the BJP government at the Centre, he said.
Jawahariullah said that the raids proved the need for dissolving the NIA, which was being used by the Union Government for its political gains and taking revenge on rivals. He said the NIA robbed the powers of the States.
The PFI said ‘NIA’s baseless claims and sensationalism are solely aimed at creating an atmosphere of terror,’ adding that the PFI would be never by intimidated by such scare tactics by a totalitarian regime that uses the central agencies as its puppets.
In Chennai, the PFI organized protests at various places since 12 noon and many other towns also saw people coming to the roads and raising slogans against the Union Government. Road traffic was affected in places like Trichy, Cuddalore, Ambur and in Chennai.
Among those areas that witnessed protests in Chennai were Pallavakkam, Purasawaklam, Pudupettai, Thousand Lights and Koyambedu.