The violence and riots in the garb of protests against CAA have resulted in many deaths- 5 in Assam, 18 in Uttar Pradesh and 2 in Karnataka. A common thread in violence across all three states is the radical Islamist organisation- the Popular Front of India (PFI). The state of Assam was the first one to witness violence. There was a PFI link in Assam violence and the BJP led government blamed the Congress and the PFI for violence in the state. Moreover, two members of the Assam unit of Kerala based PFI were arrested in connection with the violent protests against CAA.
In Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow Police arrested three members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and also revealed that the organisation was behind the violence that gripped Lucknow recently. Intelligence sources have also pointed out the growing influence of PFI in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Mangaluru in Karnataka also witnessed violence in protests against the CAA, leading to the death of two people in police firing over the violent protesters and rioters. It is important to mention here that Mangaluru is located in coastal Karnataka, which is contiguous to neighbouring Kerala, where the PFI is based and has been most active in the recent past.
The involvement of Popular Front of India in anti CAA violence across the country has reignited the demands for outlawing the radical Islamist organisation. Even in the past, its activities have manifested that it acts more like a terror outfit which ought to be banned for its activities. In fact, in 2014 itself the Kerala government had admitted the deep connections of the PFI with banned terror organisation, Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). In an affidavit filed before the Kerala High Court, the Kerala government had stated that Popular Front of India, is “nothing but a resurrection of the banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in another form”.
The affidavit had also stated that the most of the former members of the SIMI are now either identified with the Popular Front of India or are at present holding various portfolios in the PFI. According to the statement filed on the direction of state intelligence chief, although the PFI’s objectives are to protect the rights of minorities and safeguard human rights, the organisation is actually involved in criminal activities with the objective of defending Islam. This shows the inherently violent and communally inflammatory character of the PFI. The state government had also informed the High Court about 27 communally motivated murder cases, 86 attempts to murder cases and 106 communal cases with PFI’s active involvement in all of them.
The Popular Front of India has been following the devious and insidious strategy of hiding behind students in the garb of protests and unleashing violence from behind the curtains. Its objectives and intentions remain the same as SIMI, only its tactics have changed and turned even more sinister. In fact, PFI activists have also been involved with global terror organisations. There have been reports about PFI activists joining the ISIS, and a Times Now investigation had suggested that some of the organisations funding radical Islamist, PFI, have also been linked to the global terrorist organization, the Al-Qaeda.
Popular Front of India has also been very active in promoting Jihad and classes on Jihad are conducted by some of its members. In these classes, the PFI even preaches that killing right-wing activists who oppose Islam would provide them ‘religious rewards in the afterlife’. Therefore, PFI is instrumental in indoctrination and radicalisation of young and impressionable minds. Thus, the murders of RSS volunteers by PFI activists and association of PFI members with global terror outfits doesn’t really come as a surprise.
The Popular Front of India has also been on the radar of intelligence agencies. In September 2017, the National Investigation Agency had submitted a report on the PFI to the ministry, claiming that the group has been involved in terror acts, including running terror camps and making bombs, and it was a fit case to be declared banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Therefore, the PFI has always hogged limelight over its terror-related activities and radicalisation agenda. Now, the footprint of PFI in every violent protest against the CAA has corroborated its involvement in terror-related activities. This makes a perfect case for banning the terror outfit given its growingly menacing character.