Monday, November 28th, 2022 09:42:09

Dreaded PFI

By Manoj Dubey
Updated: November 7, 2022 8:21 am

The PFI (Popular Front of India) was founded on 22nd November 2006 with the motto “NayaKaravan, Naya Hindustan” (New Caravan, New India) with its headquarters in New Delhi. It is an Indian Muslim Political Organisation engaged in radical and exclusivist style of Muslim minority politics. It was formed to counter Hindutva groups through Muslim political mobilization.

The PFI is a refined version of SIMI (Students’ Islamic Movement of India) a banned terrorist organisation. SIMI was founded by Ahmadulla Siddiqi in Aligarh in 1977.Its stated mission was the liberation of India by converting it into Islamic land. It declared jihad against India with the aim of establishing Dar- ul- Islam (land of God) by either forcefully converting everyone to Islam or by violence. The Indian government described it as a terrorist organisation and banned it in 2001. The ban was lifted in 2008 by a special tribunal but was reinstated the next day by K G Balakrishnan, then CJI, on the national security grounds. SIMI considered the concepts of secularism, democracy and nationalism, keystones of Indian Constitution as antithetical to Islam. It aimed to restore the supremacy of Islam through the resurrection of khilafat, emphasis on Muslim Ummah and waging of jihad. According to Sayeed Khan, former President of SIMI, the group became more militant and extremist in the backdrop of communal riots and violence between Muslim and Hindu groups in 1980s and 1990s. SIMI is known to have operated several training camps across India to train its members to carryout bombings and other subversive acts.

The PFI came into existence after the National Development Front (NDF), a controversial organisation established in Kerala, a few years after the demolition of Babri structure in 1992, merged with two other organisations from south India. It developed a broader base as more organisations across India merged with it. The PFI describes itself “as a non-governmental social organisation whose stated objective is to work for the poor and disadvantaged people in the country and to oppose oppression and exploitation”. In its mission statement, the PFI claims to establish an “egalitarian society where everyone enjoys freedom, justice and a sense of security”.  The PFI first stepped into limelight in 2010 after the attack on a college professor in Kerala. The assault came after several Muslim groups accused him of asking derogatory questions about the Prophet Mohammad in the examination. More recently, the members of the group were linked to the beheading of a Hindu man in Udaipur, Rajasthan. A few months ago, Police in Bihar claimed that the group has allegedly circulated a document about making India an Islamic Nation by 2047. One of the main allegations against the PFI has been its connections with SIMI and Indian Mujaheddin, both banned militant groups. Its registered political party, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) participated in local elections in Kerala, without much success. The Karnataka government accused the PFI of inciting the protests after the hijab controversy. The Kerala High Court once described it as an “extremist organisation”. However, the PFI denied any involvement in terror activities.

The Enforce Directorate (ED) has claimed that the PFI had planned to target PM Modi’s rally in Patna on 12th July this year and was engaged in raising terror modules, collection of deadly weapons and explosives to simultaneously launch attack on sensitive places and individuals in UP.

Significantly, PM Modi had a close shave in Patna in October 2013 when jihadi terrorists belonging to Indian Mujaheddin, which just like PFI, has in its ranks members of the outlawed SIMI, bombed a rally he addressed immediately afterwards. Investigating agencies found evidences of the involvement of PFI in Delhi riots in 2020, during CAA protests. Its members also visited Hathras with an intent to disturb communal harmony, inciting riots and spreading terror. The NIA and ED conducted pan India raids on PFI offices and it’s members on 22nd and 27th September 2022. During the raids over 250 people linked to the group were arrested. The ED found details of Rs 120 crore collected by the outfit over the years mostly in cash from unknown and suspicious sources within the country as well as from abroad. This money was meant to be channelized for creating riots and terror activities across the country. The agencies have accused the PFI of criminal conspiracy and activities that had the potential “to pose threat to the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the nation”.   After the raids and the evidences collected by the NIA and ED, the MHA banned the PFI and its affiliates (RIF, CFI, AICC etc.) under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for having links with terrorist groups and subversive activities, which is prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty and security of the country. The PFI thus joins LeT, JeM, SIMI, Al Qaida and several other groups on the banned list.

It has been seen for the first time that no political party supported the PFI and almost everyone agreed to the ban. Now the investigation agencies must produce credible evidence in the court to ensure that the guilty are punished as per the law and no such organisation is formed again to be involved in antinational activities.

By Manoj Dubey

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