Centre bans PFI, its hub & spoke model of affiliates

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, September 28: Within weeks of the Bharatiya Janata Party worker Praveen Nattaru’s killing in Karnataka, the Centre on Wednesday morning announced the ban on Popular Front of India (PFI), calling the outfit a mercenary working at the behest of the global Islamic terror outfits such as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Centre in its notification listed the involvement of the PFI cadres in the murders of Sanjith (Kerala, 2021), V. Ramalingam (Tamil Nadu, 2019), Nadu (Kerala, 2021), Abhimanyu (Kerala, 2018), Bibin (Kerala, 2017), Sharath (Karnataka, 2017), R. Rudresh and Pravin Pujari (Karnataka, 2016), Sasi Kumar (Tamil Nadu, 2016) and Praveen Nettaru (Karnataka, 2022).

The ban order also stated “…investigations in various cases have revealed that the PFI and its cadres have been engaging in violent and subversive acts. Criminal violence acts carried out by PFI include chopping off limb of a college professor, cold blooded killings of persons associated with organisations espousing other faiths, obtaining explosives to target prominent people and places and destruction of public properties.”

The Centre also underlined that the PFI cadres arrested by the state and the Central investigative agencies were found to have linkages with the ISI and its offshoots in Afghanistan, besides Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh.

The PFI was founded in 2007 allegedly by the people who were with the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Over the years, the PFI fanned out its operations largely in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Incidentally, the PFI also has a political wing Social Democratic Party of India, which contests elections.

The Centre in its notification declared the PFI and its various offshoots unlawful. Some of the affiliates of the PFI named in the notification of the Centre are Campus Front of India, Empower India Foundation, Rehab India Foundation, All India Imams Council, National Confederation of Human Rights Organization, National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Rehab Foundation Kerala.

Incidentally, the political wing of the PFI has not specifically been banned in the notification, which could be possibly for the reasons that the Election Commission of India under the Representation of People’s Act 1952 may have the mandate.

The Centre’s notification also charged the PFI for carrying out the radicalization activities in the country at the behest of the international terror outfits.

Following the killing of Nattaru in Karnataka, allegedly for expressing support to Nupur Sharma who had purportedly made remarks against Prophet Mohammad, the BJP workers in the state were up in arms against the party-led government to protest lack of tough action against the PFI.

The Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh has on a number of occasions sought national attention to the political killings in Kerala, which against had been attributed to the PFI.

The PFI activists held protests recently in Maharashtra while ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans were trended on social media and also raised in the state allegedly by its workers.

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