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One month after filing a chargesheet against the Popular Front of India (PFI), the National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted a nationwide search operation on Tuesday in connection with the Phulwarisharif terror case. Sources revealed that searches were carried out at 16 premises linked to the suspects across four states.

The NIA stated that as part of the operation, teams raided the premises of 16 suspected individuals at multiple locations in Siwan, Purnea, and East Champaran districts of Bihar, South district of Goa, Rampur and Bhadohi districts of Uttar Pradesh, and district of Punjab. The PFI was banned by the Centre last year under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) due to alleged involvement in terror activities.

During the searches, a significant amount of digital devices and bank transaction details were seized, along with incriminating documents related to PFI and Indian currency worth Rs 1,00,000. The NIA has arrested 13 individuals in the case registered in July last year and has conducted a total of 60 searches. The case pertains to the training of PFI cadre in Phulwarisharif, Patna, and a chargesheet was filed against four accused persons on January 7, 2023.

The investigations have revealed that the accused, along with other suspects, operated from rented premises in Phulwarisharif to carry out criminal activities on behalf of PFI. They also served as physical education trainers for the recruited cadres of PFI. The agency suspects that even after the ban on PFI, its members continued to promote the outfit’s ideology and engage in unlawful activities.

The NIA is investigating the connections between the 13 arrested accused individuals and the 16 suspects whose houses were searched on Tuesday. Efforts are also being made to locate any other suspects involved in the case. In a chargesheet filed in March this year, the NIA alleged that PFI was working towards establishing Islamic rule in India by 2047 under the guise of a sociopolitical movement.

The agency has accused 19 individuals, including 12 members of the national executive council (NEC), founding members, and senior leaders of PFI in the case related to criminal conspiracy aimed at destabilizing the country. PFI chairman O M A Salam, vice chairman E M Abdul Rahiman, national secretary V P Nazaruddin, and NEC national general secretary Anees Ahmed are among those charged.

NEC members were found to be involved in arranging funds for arms training camps, purchasing weapons, and carrying out targeted killings. Since its formation in 2006, PFI members have been linked to several murders and violent attacks in the country.

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