Popular Front banned for 5 years

  • 8 associated fronts of the radical outfit were also banned

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday declared the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its front organizations including its student wing- the Campus Front of India (CFI) as an “unlawful association” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The Muslim organization has been banned for five years along with eight associates or front organizations.

The MHA has also issued another order empowering States to notify places associated with PFI and its front organizations where unlawful activity is taking place. According to the order, District Magistrate will make a list of immovable properties of the organization and make an order that no person who at the date of the notification was not a resident in the notified place shall, without the permission of the District Magistrate, enter, or be on or in, the notified place.

BJP leader Kapil Mishra stated that “Banning PFI is a decisive step against Islamic Jihad” in a tweet.

State Governments of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Gujarat have recommended a ban on PFI, MHA said. It added that if there is no immediate ban, the group will continue its subversive activities, disturbing public order and undermining the constitutional set-up of the country; encourage and enforce a terror-based regressive regime; continue to propagate anti-national sentiments, and radicalize a particular section of society with the intention to create disaffection against the country and aggravate activities which are detrimental to the integrity, security, and sovereignty of the country.

The ban comes close on the heels of a countrywide raid on September 22 when 109 members of the groups were arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other agencies. MHA will now set up a tribunal under UAPA to try the case where PFI could defend its case against the ban.

In a notification, MHA said some of the PFI’s founding members are the leaders of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and have linkages with Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), both of which are proscribed organizations. It said that the group also has linkages to global terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and participated in terror activities in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. It said the PFI cadres linked to ISIS have been killed in these conflict theatres and some have been arrested by State Police and Central Agencies.

PFI and its associates “operate openly as a socio-economic, educational and political organization but, they have been pursuing a secret agenda to radicalize a particular section 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.”

The ministry said the PFI cadres have been involved in several terrorist acts and 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 Poojary (Karnataka, 2016), Sasi Kumar (Tamil Nadu, 2016) and Praveen Nettaru (Karnataka, 2022). Most murder victims as cited in the notification were members of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), or other Hindu organizations.

MHA said 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.”

The office bearers and cadres of the PFI along with others are conspiring and raising funds from within India and abroad through the banking channels, the hawala, donations, etc. as part of a well-crafted criminal conspiracy, and then transferring, layering, and integrating these funds through multiple accounts to project them as legitimate and eventually using these funds to carry out various criminal, unlawful and terrorist activities in India, MHA said.

It said 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 their declared objectives and therefore, the Income Tax Department canceled the registration granted to PFI and Rehab India Foundation under section 12A or 12AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961).

The ministry said 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 become a major threat to the internal security of the country and investigations in various cases have revealed that the PFI and its cadres have been repeatedly engaging in violent and subversive acts. “Criminal violent acts carried out by PFI include chopping off a limb of a college professor, cold-blooded killings of persons associated with organizations espousing other faiths, obtaining explosives to target prominent people and places, and destruction of public property,” it said.

MHA said investigations have established clear linkages between PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts.

Rehab India Foundation collects funds through PFI members and some of the members of the PFI are also members of Campus Front of India, Empower India Foundation, Rehab Foundation, Kerala, and the activities of Junior Front, All India Imams Council, National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO) and National Women’s Front are monitored/coordinated by the PFI leaders,” it said.

The ministry said the PFI has created the front organizations with the objective of enhancing its reach among different sections of the society such as youth, students, women, Imams, lawyers, or weaker sections of the society with the sole objective of expanding its membership, influence, and fundraising capacity. It added that the front groups have a ‘Hub and Spoke’ relationship with the PFI acting as the Hub and utilizing the mass outreach and fundraising capacity of the affiliate groups for strengthening its capability for unlawful activities and they function as ‘roots and capillaries’ through which the PFI is fed and strengthened.

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