The Union government on Tuesday (September 27) banned the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its associates for a period of five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The Centre’s decision comes after a nationwide crackdown on the PFI.
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.
In an official order, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) declared PFI, and its associates/affiliates Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CF), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala as “unlawful association”.
“The PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts have been involved in the violent terrorist activities with an intent to create a reign of terror in the country, thereby endangering the security and public order of the state, and the anti-national activities of PFI disrespect and disregard the constitutional authority and sovereignty of the state and hence an immediate and prompt action is required against the organisation,” MHA said.
“The Central Government hereby declares that Popular Front of India (PFI) and its associates or affiliates or fronts including Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CF), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala as an ‘unlawful association’,” the notification added.
The state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat have recommended to ban PFI, the MHA said.
Further, it stated that the PFI is a “major threat” to the internal security of India. “The PFI is involved in several criminal and terror cases and shows sheer disrespect towards the constitutional authority of the country and with funds and ideological support from outside it has been a major threat to internal security of the country.”
‘Links with ISIS’
The MHA said investigations have established clear linkages between PFI and its associates, and also added that PFI has links with global terrorist groups like ISIS.
“Some of the PFI’s founding members are the leaders of 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 Global Terrorist Groups like Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“The PFI and its associates have been working covertly to increase 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… Some activists of the PFI have joined ISIS and participated in terror activities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of these PFI cadres linked to ISIS have been killed in these conflict theatres and some have been arrested by state police and central agencies,” MHA said.
PFI & its associates/affiliates/fronts found to hv bn involved in serious offences, incldng terrorism, its financing, targeted gruesome killings, disregarding Constitutional set up of India, distrbng public order etc. prejudicial to India’s integrity, security, sovereignty (2/2) pic.twitter.com/NKGrok7Zjo
— Spokesperson, Ministry of Home Affairs (@PIBHomeAffairs) September 28, 2022
The Centre also said the source of funds on behalf of the PFI was not supported by financial profiles of account holders. “The sources of deposits on behalf of PFI with respect to its several bank accounts were not supported by the financial profiles of the account holders and the activities of PFI were not being carried out as per the declared objectives and therefore, the Income Tax Department cancelled its registration.”
The MHA said PFI cadres were involved in the murder of several persons in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and these brutal murders were carried out by them for the “sole objective of disturbing public peace and tranquility and creating reign of terror in public mind”.
What is PFI? How was it formed?
According to Delhi-headquartered PFI, it is “a neo-social movement that strives for the empowerment of marginalised sections of India”. The organisation is, however, often accused by law enforcement agencies of promoting radical Islam.
PFI was formally launched in Bengaluru in February 2007 at its “Empower India Conference”. However, the decision to launch PFI was taken in November 2006 in Kerala.
The merger of Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD) from Karnataka, Kerala’s National Development Front (NDF) and Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP) from Tamil Nadu resulted in the formation of PFI.