The Central Government on Tuesday declared the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its associates or affiliates or fronts as an unlawful association with immediate effect for a period of five years.
“PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts operate openly as a socio-economic, educational and political organization but, they have been pursuing a secret agenda to radicalize a particularsection of the society working towards undermining the concept of democracy and show sheer disrespect towards the constitutional authority and constitutional set up of the country,” said the government notification.
The notification said PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts have been indulging in unlawfulactivities, which are prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty and security of the country and have the potential to disturb public peace and communal harmony of the country and support militancy in the country.
It further said some of the PFI’s founding members are the leaders of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and PFI has linkages with Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), both of which are proscribed organisations.
There had been a number of instances of international linkages of PFI with globalterrorist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); the PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts have been working covertly to increase the radicalization of one community by promoting a sense of insecurity in the country, which is substantiated by the fact that some PFI cadres have joined international terrorist organisations, said the notification.
“The Central Government, having regard to the above circumstances, is of the firm opinion that it is necessary to declare the PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts as an unlawful association with immediate effect, and accordingly, in the exercise of the powers conferred by the proviso to sub-section (3) of section 3 of the said Act, the Central Government hereby directs that this notification shall, subject to any order that may be made under section 4 of the said Act, have effect for a period of five years from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette,” it said.
Earlier on September 22, multi-agency teams spearheaded by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested 106 leaders and activists of the PFI in 15 states for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country. The NIA is investigating 19 cases involving the PFI.
While 25 people each were arrested in Assam and Maharashtra, 57 were detained in Uttar Pradesh, officials said. The count of those detained in Delhi was 30, Madhya Pradesh was at 21 followed by 10 in Gujarat and six in Pune in Maharashtra. Besides, several people were also arrested in Karnataka.
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Just yesterday, more than 170 people allegedly linked with PFI were detained or arrested in raids across seven states. There was no immediate reaction from the PFI, which was formed in 2006 and claims to strive for a neo-social movement ostensibly for the empowerment of marginalised sections of India. It is, however, often accused by law enforcement agencies of promoting radical Islam. The organisation was formed in Kerala and is headquartered in Delhi.
According to officials in Assam, of the 25 PFI activists arrested in the fresh crackdown, 10 were held in Goalpara. Besides, five were nabbed in Kamrup (Rural) and three in Dhubri, followed by arrests in Barpeta, Baksa, Darrang, Udalguri and Karimganj.
What is PFI?
Created in 2007, the organisation describes itself as the “organisation that fights for the rights of minorities, Dalits, and marginalised communities”.
It was founded after merging three Muslim organisations in southern India, the National Democratic Front in Kerala, the Karnataka Forum for Dignity, and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu.
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The organisation does not contest elections but carries on social and religious work among Muslims.
Entering politics, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) emerged from PFI in 2009. It raises political issues for Muslims, Dalits, and other marginalised communities. PFI provides ground workers to SDPI.