A video has surfaced on social media, which shows that a “Pakistan Zindabad" slogan was allegedly raised during a protest organised by the Popular Front of India (PFI) in Pune, drawing a sharp reaction from the Maharashtra government, which said action would be taken against the slogan shouters. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said such slogans will not be tolerated in the state, while Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is also the Home Minister, said those who indulged in this sloganeering will not be spared.
The video shows that the slogan was raised a couple of times when the PFI activists were being bundled into a police vehicle as part of their detention during the protest held on Friday. The PFI had organised the protest outside the district collector office to denounce the recent nationwide raids on the outfit and the arrest of its activists. During the protest, the police detained around 40 protesters.
#WATCH | Maharashtra: ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans were heard outside the District Collector’s office yesterday in Pune City where PFI cadres gathered against the recent ED-CBI-Police raids against their outfit. Some cadres were detained by Police; they were arrested this morning. pic.twitter.com/XWEx2utZZm— ANI (@ANI) September 24, 2022
The Pune police said they were investigating the matter. “We have already registered a case against the PFI members for unlawful assembly and we are looking into the slogans matter," said Sagar Patil, Deputy Commissioner of Police.
An offence against more than 60 protesters has been registered at the Bundgarden police station for organising the agitation without permission, for unlawful assembly and for blocking the road, another official said. In a tweet, CM Shinde condemned the pro-Pakistan slogan raised by “anti-social elements".
“The police machinery will take appropriate action against them. Such slogans will not be tolerated in the land of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj," he said.
Speaking in Nagpur, Fadnavis said, “If anyone raises a ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogan in Maharashtra or in India, then that person will not be spared and action will be taken against them. We will find them out wherever they may be and will take action against them."
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former state minister Chandrakant Patil said, “Overall, the case (against PFI) is very sensitive as far as national security is concerned and the agencies concerned are already doing their work. The home minister and the deputy CM have taken cognisance and appropriate action will be taken."
Taking to Twitter, BJP MLA Nitesh Rane said those who raised pro-Pakistan slogans should remember that they will not be spared. He also demanded a ban on the PFI.
“To all those shouting Pakistan Zindabad slogans in support of PFI in Pune.. Chun chun ke marenge.. Itna yaad rakana!!! #BanPfi," he said.
Another BJP MLA Ram Satpute sought a strict action against those who raised slogans, and said the Pune police should arrest them.
In a massive crackdown on the PFI, multi-agency teams spearheaded by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had, on Thursday, arrested 106 leaders and activists of the radical Islamic outfit in near-simultaneous raids in 15 states for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country. Maharashtra and Karnataka accounted for 20 arrests each, Tamil Nadu (10), Assam (9), Uttar Pradesh (8), Andhra Pradesh (5), Madhya Pradesh (4), Puducherry and Delhi (3 each) and Rajasthan (2).
The PFI, formed in 2006, claims to strive for a neo-social movement ostensibly for the empowerment of marginalised sections of India, and is often accused by law enforcement agencies of promoting radical Islam.