Lucknow: Police in Uttar Pradesh have claimed they have apprehended four people linked with the Popular Front of India (PFI) in Mathura, while they were on their way to Hathras from Delhi.

A journalist, who is a contributor for a popular Kerala-based website, and three other men were arrested in Uttar Pradesh's Mathura on Monday (October 5).

The development comes amid allegations by chief minister Yogi Adityanath there is a big ‘international conspiracy’ to defame his government and attempts to spark caste and communal riots over the murder and gang-rape of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in the state’s Hathras district.

According to the cops, the four men - Atiq-ur Rehman, Siddique Kappan, Masood Ahmed and Alam - were stopped at a toll after they received information that some "suspicious people were on their way to Hathras from Delhi". Their mobile phones, a laptop and some literature, "which could have an impact on peace, and law and order in the state", have been seized, a statement said. The men, during questioning, revealed they had links with the PFI and its associate organisation Campus Front of India (CFI), the police claimed.

Siddique Kappan, a journalist and the secretary of Kerala Union of Working Journalists’ Delhi unit, was on his way to report on the current situation in the woman’s village.

According to a report on popular website, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists has urged Adityanath to release Kappan immediately. “We understand that he was taken into police custody by Uttar Pradesh police from Hathras toll plaza,” the journalists body said in a statement. “Our efforts and the efforts by some advocates based in Delhi to contact him were not successful. The Hathras police station and the state police department has not provided any information so far on taking him into custody.”

Kappan had earlier sent a legal notice to the people who had linked him to Popular Front of India or PFI, according to the television channel. The Adityanath-led state government has blamed the organisation for protests against the Citizenship Amendment Law that erupted last year and the subsequent vandalism.

19 FIRs have been filed over the Hathras incident by the Uttar Pradesh police, facing criticism over the handling of the case. The police has alleged an attempt to disturb peace in the state and listed sedition, conspiracy and promoting religious hatred in the main FIR or First Information Report filed in the incident.

Several Opposition leaders have demanded Yogi Adityanath's resignation, the chief minister, apparently targeting the rivals over the issue, on Sunday tweeted: "Those who do not like development, they want to incite ethnic and communal riots."