The NIA on Wednesday carried out searches at 20 locations across six states against the banned Popular Front of India in connection with a case related to creating disturbance during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Bihar last year, officials said.
An official spokesperson said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) carried out extensive search operations at 20 different locations, including Fazalpur, Shaheen Bagh, Okhla and Chandni Chowk in the national capital.
Raids were conducted in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, Thane and Mumbai in Maharashtra, Tonk and Gangapur in Rajasthan, and Lucknow, Siddharthnagar, Sant Ravidas Nagar, Kanpur and Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, he said.
Additionally, searches were also conducted in Madurai, the spokesperson added.
These operations are part of ongoing investigations in cases linked with the PFI and its involvement in unlawful and anti-national activities, he said.
During the searches, a substantial cache of crucial evidence in the ongoing case was found which included various digital devices such as laptops, mobile phones, SIM cards, memory cards, pen drives, and hard discs, the official said.
Incriminating documents have also been recovered during the operations, the spokesperson added.
The NIA has seized Rs 8.5 lakh cash. The agency had taken over the probe from the Patna Police, which had registered an FIR on July 12 last year. Ten days later, the central anti-terror agency re-registered the case and started its investigation.
The Patna Police had raided the premise of one Athar Parvez in the Phulwarisharif area on July 11 last year resulting in the seizure of PFI literature and a document titled "India 2047 Towards Rule of Islam in India, Internal Document: Not for circulation".
Several individuals, including Athar Parvej, Md Jalaluddin Khan, Nooruddin Zangi alias Advocate Nooruddin, and Arman Malick alias Imteyaz Anwer, were arrested in the case.
The NIA has filed three charge sheets so far against 13 suspects in this case and arrested 17 people.
"They are alleged to have been actively involved in furthering the unlawful activities of PFI, including the illicit funnelling of funds from overseas to the PFI members and suspects in this case," the agency said.
The allegation of this case centres on a gathering of individuals with suspicious intent in the Phulwarisharif area of Patna to disrupt the rally that was to be attended by the prime minister.
Previously, the NIA had conducted multiple searches in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala in order to collect evidence against the accused persons and suspects in the present case.
During the ongoing investigations, the NIA apprehended Anwar Rashid, a former member of the banned organisation Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
Anwar Rashid's arrest is linked to his involvement in a criminal conspiracy, alongside FIR-named suspects Athar Parvej, Manjar Parvej, and others, all working towards advancing the agenda of the PFI. Their aim has been the pursuit and establishment of Islamic Rule in India by the year 2047, the agency said.
Following the ban on SIMI, its members, including Anwar Rashid, were associated with the Wahadat-e-Islami, an organisation formed by former SIMI members, who continued to promote the ideology of Islamic rule in India.
The investigations revealed that accused Anwar Rashid, in his association with a publication house, was involved in the supply of material for promoting the ideology of the PFI, specifically the establishment of Islamic Rule in India, the spokesperson added.
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