The Kerala Police on Saturday held raids at important facilities of Islamist organization Popular Front of India (PFI) in Muslim-majority Malappuram district as part of intensifying the probe into the gruesome murder of Abhimanyu (20), an activist of pro-CPI(M) student outfit SFI, at Kochi’s Maharaja’s College at midnight July 1 allegedly by activists of the PFI’s political wing SDPI and its student outfit Campus Front of India.
The raids, held under the leadership of the Deputy Superintendents of Police (DySPs) of Tirur, Malappuram and Perinthalmanna from 10.00 AM to 1.00 PM Saturday. The outcome of the raids was not immediately clear but police sources said such inspections would be carried out at PFI facilities in other places also.
Raids were held at the Markaz-ul Hidaya (Sathya Sarani) Educational and Charitable Trust, a PFI-controlled center for religious learning at Cherani in Manjeri, the campus of Green Valley Foundation, a skill development centre under the organization at Karaparambu, Manjeri and Malabar House at Kadampuzha near Malappuram.
Sathyasarani, a center imparting religious lessons to persons who convert to Islam from other religions, was in the eye of a controversy recently in connection with the Akhila/Hadiya case. There were allegations that it was this institution that had made Hindu woman Akhila convert to Islam and marry a Muslim youth, Shaffin Jahan.
The police had held raids in the past three days at several centers of PFI and SDPI in Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Kozhikode districts in connection with the probe into the murder of Abhimanyu. The police had also taken over 300 PFI and SDPI men, including several middle-level leaders into preventive custody.
Rejecting the allegation that the raids showed the State Government’s anti-minorities stand, local Administration Minister KT Jaleel said that raids on the PFI which he termed as an extremist outfit was not a hunt against minorities. “The Muslim community, even in Malappuram, has already rejected the Popular Front,” he said.
A court remanded in judicial custody 132 SDPI workers who were detained the other day at Aluva near Kochi during a protest march demanding release of the organization’s leaders who had been taken into preventive custody. The SDPI alleged that the police were harassing innocents in the name of the probe into the SFI worker’s murder.
Meanwhile, the police on Saturday arrested two more activists of the SDPI in connection with the killing of the SFI worker at Maharaja’s College. However, these two persons were not on the list of 15 accused in the murder case but they were held on the charge of providing assistance to the killers.
With the arrest of Nawas and Jaffri of Mattanchery, Kochi on Saturday, the total number of persons arrested in the case went up to six. According to the police, Nawas and Jaffri were at the spot of the incident at midnight July 1.
The police had earlier arrested four of the 15 accused and a court had on Friday left three of them in their custody.
The SFI activist, a native of Vattavada in Idukki district, was stabbed to death allegedly by PFI, SDPI and Campus Front workers during a clash over sticking posters on the college campus. According to eyewitnesses, a gang of Islamists had unleashed terror on SFI activists following a dispute with Campus Front workers over poster-sticking.
The police have reportedly received indications about the person who had stabbed Abhimanyu to death but this could be ascertained only after all the accused were caught.
Muhammad, a Campus Front activist and final-year BA Arabic student at Maharaja’s college is named as the first accused in the case.
The police have started efforts to freeze the bank accounts of the accused persons who are yet to be arrested.
They are also examining whether any of the 15-member gang that had attacked the SFI activists had received any financial assistance and also whether any suspicious transfer of funds to their accounts had been made in the recent past.
Meanwhile, sources said that one of the six accused belonging to Nettoor in Kochi could have been involved in the incident of chopping of the hand of former college professor TJ Joseph on July 4, 2010, which was the first major strike in Kerala.
The NIA is also examining whether any of Abhimanyu’s killers had any connection with the hand-chopping incident.