Centre bans PFI, all its affiliates for 5 years. Here are key reasons

After two rounds of nationwide raids and arrests of over 240 members, the Centre on Wednesday banned the contentious Popular Front of India (PFI) and all its affiliates, excluding the outfit’s political wing Socialist Democratic Party of India (SDPI), under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

PFI activists join global terror groups: Union Home Ministry

In a two-page order, the Centre said that PFI and its associates have been pursuing a “secret agenda” to radicalize one section of the society. The Union government is of the opinion that the Muslim-managed outfit is involved in unlawful activities, disturbing public order, and encouraging terror-based regressive regime, the notification on Tuesday said. “There had been a number of instances of international linkages of PFI with Global Terrorist Groups and some activists of the PFI have joined Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and participated in terror activities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,” it said. The Home Ministry said the organization’s activities are “prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty and security of the country”, and that they have the potential to disturb public peace and communal harmony. It has been pursuing a secret agenda to radicalise a particular section of the society, said the ministry and added that outfit shows “sheer disrespect towards the constitutional authority of the country.” The ministry said the PFI has been involved in violent acts like, “chopping off limb of a college professor and cold-blooded killings of people associated with organisations espousing other faiths.” On the other hand, the Centre also alleged that PFI raises funds in India and abroad through hawala and donations as part of a “well-crafted criminal conspiracy.” The Income Tax department also canceled bank accounts linked to PFI as deposit sources were not clear.

Action on its affiliates

Besides the PFI, organisations linked to it have also been banned. These are Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CF), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala. These affiliate organisations have a “hub and spoke” relationship with the PFI, the ministry said, adding that the outfit acts as the hub and utilises the mass outreach and fund-raising capacity of its affiliates to strengthen its capability, according to NDTV.

Mega crackdown before ban

On September 22 and September 27, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and state police conducted raids on the PFI.  On September 22, the NIA and the ED carried out searches at 93 locations in 15 states – Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, Bihar and Manipur. At least 106 PFI members and their alleged associates were arrested in the first round of raids. In the second round of raids on September 27, as many as 247 people were arrested/detained.

BJP-ruled states recommended the ban; Yogi welcomes move

Notably, three states – Karnataka, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh – have already recommended a ban on the PFI. BJP’s national spokesperson, Shehzad Poonawalla, stated on Twitter, “Strong & timely action by Central Government, MHA that has banned the #PFI for a period of five years. But we have seen in the past how Congress, SP, RJD, Left, etc have given political patronage to terror in name of votebank.” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said: “This is ‘New India’, where terrorists, criminals and organizations and individuals who pose a threat to the unity, integrity and security of the nation are not acceptable.”

Sufi clerics hail ban

While most of the Muslim organization, barring Jamaat-e-Islamic, chose to remain silence, the Sufi clerics have been demanding ban on the PFI. They stressed that the nation is bigger than any institution or idea. “The All India Sufi Sajjadanashin Council believes that if this action has been taken for compliance with the law and the prevention of terrorism, then everyone should work patiently on it, this step of the government and investigative agencies should be welcomed,” the statement read. Echoing his view, Maulana Shahabuddin Razvi Barelvi, the president of All India Muslim Jamaat, also issued a video statement, calling the decision the right step to curb extremism.

Major controversies around the outfit

The PFI first gained notoriety 12 years ago when its activists chopped off the right hand of Kerala professor TJ Joseph, for allegedly setting a ‘blasphemous’ question in an exam paper.

In 2012, then chief minister Oommen Chandy told the High Court that PFI is “nothing but a resurrection of the banned outfit SIMI” and filed an affidavit saying that its workers were involved in 27 murder cases. Most of those killed were from RSS and CPM.

In April 2022, A Subair, PFI president of Elappully, was killed outside a mosque. The police said that the killer’s vehicle was registered under the name of S Sanjith, an RSS worker. Sanjith was killed in November 2021, allegedly by the workers of PFI and SDPI, according to Indian Express. A day after Subair’s death, SK Sreenivasan, another RSS worker, was hacked to death in Palakkad.

PFI history

P Koya, E Abubacker, and EM Abdul Rahiman, now in NIA custody, are considered to be the force behind PFI which was formed in 2007. The organization describes itself as the “organization that fights for the rights of minorities, Dalits, and marginalized communities.” As per media reports, it was founded after merging three Muslim bodies in southern India – the National Democratic Front in Kerala, the Karnataka Forum for Dignity, and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu. PFI is headquartered in New Delhi. The decision to form the organization was made on November 22, 2006, in Kozhikode, Kerala. Entering politics, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) emerged from PFI in 2009. According to Indian Express, it raises political issues for Muslims, Dalits, and other marginalized communities. PFI provides ground workers to SDPI.


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