Indian authorities detained scores of members of a Muslim organisation on Tuesday, accusing them of violence and anti-national activities.

The arrests follow a crackdown earlier this month on the Popular Front of India (PFI) in which about 100 people were detained.

The PFI has condemned the detentions and related raids as harassment and held street protests.

“This is nothing but prevention of the right to democratic protests against the central government’s witch-hunt targeting PFI and is quite natural and expected under this autocratic system,” PFI said on Twitter on Tuesday after what it called “massive arrests”.

Police in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh said they detained 57 persons linked to the PFI on Tuesday because of “violent acts conducted by them and their rising anti-national activities across the country”.

Similar detentions were made in the northeastern state of Assam, its chief minister told reporters, days after he asked for a ban on the PFI.

Earlier this month, the federal National Investigation Agency raided locations in the states of Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and detained some PFI members, accusing them of organising training camps to “commit terrorist acts” or being involved in “anti-national activities”.

The PFI has supported causes like street protests against a 2019 citizenship law that many Muslims see as discriminatory.

Muslims account for 13 per cent of India’s 1.4 billion people and many have complained of marginalisation under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

The party denies the charges and points to data that all Indians irrespective of religion are benefiting from Modi’s focus on economic development and social welfare.

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