A day after Uttar Pradesh Police arrested two Popular Front of India (PFI) workers from Kerala claiming to have confiscated huge quantities of explosives from them, party leaders in Kerala have alleged that the UP Police was taking revenge against the party for filing a PIL against them in 2019.
On Tuesday, senior police officials in Uttar Pradesh had held a press meet, announcing the arrest of two Kerala natives who were members of PFI – Ansad Badruddin and Firoz Khan. The police said that they confiscated explosives from the duo and accused them of planning a terror strike. But the claims have been dismissed by the party’s senior leaders in Kerala. PFI has also stated that it will move the Supreme Court demanding a CBI probe into the incident.
According to the PFI leaders, Firoz Khan hails from Vadakara in Kozhikode while Ansad is a resident of Pandalam in Pathanamthitta district. “Both of them had left their hometowns a week back as part of the organisation's expansion work in north India. They were scheduled to visit Bihar, West Bengal and Maharashtra. On February 11, they boarded a train from Bihar’s Katihar to Mumbai. Going to UP or being in UP was not at all part of their schedule. There has been no news about them thereafter. Only after their families filed a complaint in police stations in Kerala, did the UP police hold a press meet with what we believe is a cooked-up story,” Nasarudheen Elamaram, National Secretary of PFI, told the media in Kerala.
The PFI leader also alleged that the UP Police had been targeting the party ever since it moved against the police force legally following the anti-CAA and NRC protests. In 2019, PFI had filed public interest litigation (PIL) against UP Police accusing them of killing many of those protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens in Uttar Pradesh. The PIL was filed in Allahabad High Court, and PFI had also involved families of many mob lynching victims to move legally against police in many cases. It is against these actions by the party that UP Police has a grudge, Naasarudheen told TNM.
“Uttar Pradesh is a state which has witnessed strong protests against CAA and NRC. Twenty-three protesters who were peacefully protesting, were killed in UP. Over 1,000 people have been booked for taking part in the protests. Following this, for the first time in history, PFI started a legal battle against UP Police filing complaints against the incidents. What we see now is the vengeance of UP police against PFI,” Nasarudheen said.
PFI has also claimed that Ansad and Firoz were arrested by the police in between their journey. “If we check the CCTV visuals from the railway station in Bihar, we can see them carrying their two bags while boarding the train.”
The party alleged that arrests of a few other leaders of PFI leaders as well as Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who was on the way to cover the Hathras rape case when he was arrested, were part of the same ‘vengeance’ by the UP Police.
“Now no one is talking about the Hathras case, the UP Police have categorically tried to cover up talks about the Hathras case with these arrests,” Nasarudheern alleged.
PFI also urged the Kerala government to intervene in the issue. “This should not be considered a vote bank issue. There are families waiting for these arrested persons,” PFI leaders said.
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh police has claimed that both the men were arrested from Kukrail trisection in Gudamba area in the state by a Special Task Force. Explosive devices including battery and red wire, a .32 bore pistol, seven live cartridges, cash, PAN card, four ATM cards, pen drives, metro card, driving licenses and Aadhar cards were recovered from their possession, said Additional Director General of Police (ADG), Law and Order, Prashant Kumar.