Kolkata: Days after being sealed off following an NIA raid, life in the vicinity of a Kolkata office of the now banned Popular Front of India (PFI) remained normal, with locals preparing for the upcoming Durga Puja and enjoying their favourite snack during leisure.
Building number 59C, which housed a PFI office in Tiljala area, is located in a typical Kolkata neighbourhood. Local residents, however, did not seem much interested in the September 22 raid and the banning of the Islamist outfit on Wednesday.
Locals were seen chatting and exchanging pleasantries, while other residents enjoyed their favourite snack at local kebab, jhal muri or kochuri stalls, and others queued in front of a dispensary. At a stone’s throw from the building, preparations were underway at a Durga Puja pandal, with the marquee being set up for the upcoming festivities.
“After the banning, some people came and took down the PFI board,” said the owner of a small shop in a corner.
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Seventy-four-year-old Mohammad Abbas, one of the caretakers of 59C, said PFI’s office was located on the fourth floor of the building.
“I woke up to loud banging on the main entrance around 3.45 AM on September 22. When I opened the gate, officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) along with central paramilitary forces went to the PFI office and seized all their documents,” Abbas said.
Notably, Assam Police have arrested PFI’s West Bengal unit president Minarul Sheikh from Delhi last week.
Meanwhile, Congress West Bengal chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “Those speaking of ideals should also look into their own backyard and the activities of the RSS.” Noting that it is for the Centre to clarify reasons for holding that PFI has links with terror outfits, he asserted that there was no reason to tie up Congress with the issue.
“By trying to draw the Congress into the issue, the BJP is proving that it is playing some game,” he said.