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NEW DELHI: India banned an Islamist group and its affiliates for five years on Wednesday over alleged terrorism links, after a nationwide crackdown that saw hundreds of the organisation’s members arrested.

A government notice said the Popular Front of India (PFI) had been outlawed for its ties to extremist organisations, including the Islamic State group, and for violent attacks attributed to its members.

The PFI denies involvement in extremist activity and says it is the subject of a “witch hunt” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.

Police have arrested more than 300 PFI cadres in raids across the country since Friday.

A home affairs ministry statement announcing the ban outlined a laundry list of charges accusing the group of violent and subversive activities.

Members had engaged in “cold-blooded killings of persons associated with organisations espousing other faiths, obtaining explosives to target prominent people and places and destruction of public property”, Wednesday’s notice said.

The ministry said PFI members had been responsible for at least 10 murders in southern India since 2016 and accused the group of “pursuing a secret agenda” to radicalise society and undermine democracy.

Hardline Hindu groups have long campaigned for a ban on PFI, which is estimated to have tens of thousands of members around India.

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