Statewide crackdown: UP ATS arrests 2 over ‘PFI link’, detains 70 for questioning (The Indian Express)

Lucknow-based activist and Rihai Manch founder Mohammad Shoaib among those rounded up, released later

By Asad Rehman

In a statewide crackdown on the Popular Front of India (PFI), the Uttar Pradesh Police’s Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested two men over their alleged links with the banned organisation and detained 70 people, including a 75-year-old Lucknow-based activist and lawyer, for questioning.

Those arrested were identified as Parvez Ahmad and Raees Ahmad.

Activist-lawyer Mohammad Shoaib, the founder of Rihai Manch that provides legal assistance to those accused in terror cases, was taken in custody “for questioning” from Lucknow’s Aminabad area on Sunday morning. He, however, was released by late evening, a member of his family said.

In a statement, the police said that a total of 211 people, who were in the past associated with the PFI, have been identified in the state. “A campaign was started on Saturday to take action against the suspects,” the statement read.

The action was taken by field units of ATS in Noida, Saharanpur, Meerut, Moradabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Bahraich, Gorakhpur, Varanasi and Azamgarh. Of the 211 people identified, 70 have been brought to their respective police station for questioning.

In 20 districts across the state, the highest number of people were detained for questioning in Shamli (11) followed by Ghaziabad (10), Lucknow (9), and Varanasi (8).

State Additional Director General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said that activist Mohammad Shoaib is being questioned by ATS officers.

Earlier in the day, Shoaib’s wife Malka Bi in a complaint to the Aminabad Station House Officer said, “At 7.30 am, nearly 12 people, including some in police uniform, came and took away my husband. These people were in plainclothes and didn’t identify themselves. My husband has a heart condition for 15 years and has been unwell for the past six months.”

“They said that he (Shoaib) has been called to the Aminabad police station for 10-15 minutes and will be released soon. Three people were in uniform, while seven were in civilian clothes. I can’t say who they were. He has not taken his medicines,” she said in a video statement released by her.

ADG Kumar said, “He (Shoaib) has been taken for questioning in connection with action against the PFI. He will be released if his involvement is not found in anything.”…

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