Popular Front of India (PFI) dissolves after Centre's 5-year ban
Abdul Sattar, Kerala State General Secretary of the Popular Front of India (PFI), announced the disbanding of the organisation on Wednesday. The move comes hours after the Centre banned the contentious PFI under conventions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for five years. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in a 5:43 am order, alleged cadres of being involved in "several terrorist acts".
Why does this story matter?
- PFI is reportedly an extremist Islamic organization founded by members of the banned terrorist organization Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
- Raids were conducted at over 100 PFI-linked locations under charges of promoting terrorism over the last week. The outfit, however, calls it a targeted attack on minorities.
- Earlier, the NIA claimed that PFI trains people to commit terrorist acts and fuels communal divide.
What did the Centre say?
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, and have been allegedly indulging in unlawful activities. The notification read, "These activities are prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty, and security of the country and have the potential of...supporting militancy in the country."
'PFI has links with global terror outfits'
The Centre alleged that PFI has links with global terror outfits like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). "PFI and its associates have been working covertly to increase radicalization of one community...some PFI cadres have joined international terrorist organizations," the Centre said, adding that they have allegedly participated in activities in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
BJP-ruled states recommended the ban
The notification said that the state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Gujarat (all ruled by the BJP) recommended the ban on PFI. 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.
PFI banned under UAPA for 5 years
Citing PFI's links with criminal and terror cases that show "sheer disrespect towards constitutional authority," the Centre alleged it a major threat to internal security. It referred to criminal acts allegedly committed by PFI cadres, including chopping off a college professor's limb in Kerala and "cold-blooded killings" of people of other faiths. Citing section 3 of UAPA, the Centre banned PFI and associated outfits.
What other outfits have been banned?
Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), National Women's Front, Empower India Foundation, and Rehab Foundation, Kerala- all allegedly linked to the PFI have also been banned.
Ban comes after nationwide crackdown
The development comes after nationwide raids and the arrest of over 240 PFI functionaries in a week. In a second crackdown on Tuesday, the NIA and ED detained 170 PFI cadres after raids at 240 locations in Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat, Assam, and Maharashtra, among others. In the first raid on September 22, the agencies detained 106 PFI leaders and raided over 96 locations.