The central government on Wednesday banned the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its sister organisations after investigations by probe agencies established that these organisations are involved in unlawful activities.
The action by the union government comes after a series of crackdowns by the investigative agencies on PFI and its members in the last five days. Over 106 PFI members were arrested and 247 more were detained by law enforcement agencies.
It has also been alleged that the PFI and its associates have been found indulging in unlawful activities which are prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty and security of the country. According to the government, these activities have the potential of disturbing public peace and communal harmony and supporting militancy in the country.
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The government’s list of PFI cadres engaging in unlawful activities:
1. The PFI poses a major threat to the internal security of the country as it is funded and ideologically supported by groups abroad. The organisation is involved in several criminal and terror cases and shows sheer disrespect towards the constitutional authority of the country.
2. Investigations in various cases have revealed that the PFI and its cadres have been repeatedly engaging in violent and subversive acts. Violent acts carried out by PFI members include chopping off the limb of a college professor, cold-blooded murder of persons associated with organisations of other faiths, obtaining explosives to target prominent people and places, among others.
3. Several terrorist acts and murders have been attributed to PFI cadres. The cadres are involved in the murder of several persons including Sanjith (Kerala, November 2021), V Ramalingam, (Tamil Nadu, 2019), Nandu, (Kerala, 2021), Abhimanyu (Kerala, 2018), Bibin (Kerala, 2017), Sharath (Karnataka, 2017), R Rudresh (Karnataka, 2016), Praveen Pujari (Karnataka, 2016), Sasi Kumar (Tamil Nadu, 2016) and Praveen Nettaru (Karnataka, 2022).
The criminal activities and brutal murders have been carried out by PFI cadres for the sole objective of disturbing public peace and tranquility and creating a reign of terror in the public mind.
4. PFI was shown to have links to global terrorist groups with some activists of the organisation having joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They also participated in terror activities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some of these PFI cadres linked to ISIS have been killed in these conflict areas and some have been arrested by the state police and central agencies.The PFI also has links to Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a proscribed terrorist organization.
5. The office bearers and cadres of the PFI, along with others, are conspiring and raising funds from within India and abroad through banking channels. These funds are integrated through multiple accounts to project them as legitimate and eventually used to carry out various criminal, unlawful and terrorist activities in India.
6. After it was found that the activities of the organisation were not being carried out as per their declared objectives, the Income Tax Department cancelled the registration granted to PFI under relevant sections of the Income Tax Act. The Income Tax Department also cancelled the registration granted to Rehab India Foundation.
7. The state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat have recommended banning PFI.
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Why the need for a ban?
The central government said that if the PFI and its fronts are not banned immediately, the organisation will use the opportunity to indulge in unlawful activities. These include:
1. Continuing its subversive activities, thereby disturbing public order and undermining the constitutional set up of the country.
2. Encouraging and enforcing a terror-based regressive regime.
3. Propagating anti-national sentiments and aiming to radicalise a particular section of society with the intention of creating disaffection against the country.
4. Aggravate activities which are detrimental to the integrity, security and sovereignty of the country.
Why have PFI’s sister organisations been banned?
The notification by the government said that some of the members of the PFI were also found to be members of Campus Front of India (CFI), EEmpower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala.
It said PFI leaders also coordinated the activities of the Junior Front, All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (NCHRO) and National Women’s Front.
“PFI has created these associates or affiliates or fronts with the objective of enhancing its reach among different sections of the society such as the youth, students, women, Imams, lawyers or weaker sections of the society with the sole objective of expanding its membership, influence and fund-raising capacity,” reads the notification by the government.
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According to the government, these organisations are pursuing a secret agenda to radicalise a particular section of society, working towards undermining the concept of democracy.
The government has termed the relationship between these associate organisations as a ‘hub and spoke’ relationship with the PFI acting as the hub and utilising the mass outreach and fundraising capacity of its affiliates. “These fronts function as ‘roots and capillaries’ through which the PFI is fed and strengthened,” added the notification.
During their probe, the investigative agencies also found evidence that some of PFI’s founding members are the leaders of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and that the organisation has links with Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), both of which are proscribed organisations.
In exercise of the powers conferred by sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the central government declared the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its fronts including Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), 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 as an “unlawful association” and banned these organisations with immediate effect for the next five years.
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