The Ministry of Home Affairs today issued a notification declaring the Popular Front of India (PFI) and eight of its associate organisations as "unlawful associations" under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
In other words, PFI and its eight affiliates stand banned. The much-anticipated action on the radical Islamic outfit was taken in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
However, raids on PFI hubs and arrests of its senior operatives has been going for the past week.
The crackdown on PFI took place in a seamless manner. The operation included conducting raids across 10 states and detaining its top leadership, leaving little to no time for them to orchestrate violence or deploy counter-tactics.
As per reports, the planning to act against PFI and its frontal organisations was going on for several months.
Here is a brief timeline of the way in which the NSA Ajit Doval along with Ministry of Home Affairs, went about devising the NIA’s "largest ever" crackdwon.
On 30 July, NSA Ajit Doval attends an interfaith conference - organised by the All India Sufi Sajjadanashin Council (AISSC). At the conference, he makes an appeal to all religious leaders to come together to fight against radical forces.
A resolution is passed at the conference advocating for a ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) for pursuing a divisive agenda and indulging in anti-national activities.
On 29 August, Union Home Minister Amit Shah holds a multi-agency meeting that includes the NIA, Enforcement Directorate, and Intelligence Bureau officials. Doval and Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla also attend the meeting.
On 2 September, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was commissioning INS Vikrant in Kochi, NSA Doval is reported to be meeting Kerala police officials and preparing for the crackdown on PFI.
Next day, on 3 September, NSA meets security officials at Governor’s House in Maharashtra related to the planned raids.
The planning stage is kept highly confidential and reportedly accorded the same level of secrecy as was maintained during the abrogation of Article 370.
On 19 September, MHA calls for another meeting of the investigative agencies and asks to conduct coordinated raids across India.
On September 22, a nationwide raid is conducted. Agencies search PFI offices and the houses of its leaders and functionaries.
Around 200 officers from NIA, ED and anti-terror squads of at least 10 state police carry out search operations at over 150 locations in more than 15 states and arrest 106 PFI leaders and members.
The massive operation conducted in unison leaves the PFI leaderless. It is reported that NSA Doval monitored the process throughout.
Meanwhile, reports emerge of RSS sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, meeting Muslim intellectuals and religious leaders and sending out the message of strengthening communal harmony. As per some observers, the timing of the meeting, close to the NIA operation on PFI, point to the RSS chief pre-empting and preventing any support for the PFI from the Muslim civil society.
On September 27, another nationwide raid was conducted across Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Delhi, Maharashtra, Assam and Madhya Pradesh. More than 170 people linked with the PFI were detained by state police teams.
On the morning of 28 September, the Modi government issues a notification announcing the ban on PFI for five years.
Considering the scale and success of the operation, one could derive the meticulous planning and monitoring that must have gone into ensuring a radical outfit such as PFI is brought to book, that too, without firing a single bullet.
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