PFI banned: Following a zero-tolerance policy against terrorism, radicalisation and extremism, the Central government has finally banned the Islamic ‘terror’ outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) and its associations for five years. The stringent actions come against the backdrop of successive raids across the nation on the terror infrastructure wreaking havoc in the country. The PFI and its eight associated outfits have been banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Amid all this clamour, it becomes important to note the pattern which such proscribed organisations like PFI or Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) follow. It has to be ensured that the anti-India forces can’t evade the ban through new nomenclatures like it did in the past.
Raids followed by Ban
On 27th of September, the security agencies conducted another nationwide crackdown on the radical outfit PFI. This was the second of such well-coordinated raids at the PFI hideouts within a short span of five days. The latest raids were conducted across seven states.
In these widespread raids, the security agencies detained or arrested more than 270 members of the notorious Islamic outfit. These raids, arrests and anti-India activities of PFI prompted the Central government to issue the gazette notification banning the Islamic outfit for a period of five years.
Also Read: PFI, its modus operandi and why it will not last the year
Central Government declares PFI (Popular Front of India) and its associates or affiliates or fronts as an unlawful association with immediate effect, for a period of five years. pic.twitter.com/ZVuDcBw8EL
— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2022
After this move, the PFI becomes the 42nd terrorist organisation which has been proscribed under Section 35 of the stringent UAPA law.
The prominent PFI associates banned under UAPA include Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI) and All India Imams Council (AIIC) among others.
Also Read: It is safe to assume that PFI is in its death throes
PFI & its associates incl Rehab India Foundation(RIF), Campus Front of India(CFI), All India Imams Council(AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Org(NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Jr Front, Empower India Foundation &Rehab Foundation, Kerala declared unlawful associations
— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2022
Earlier, the security agencies had conducted raids at 93 locations under a well-coordinated ‘Operation Octopus’. Around 106 members of PFI were arrested in those raids. The agencies seized incriminating documents linking the extremist outfits to several dreaded international terrorist organisations and whole lot of other anti-India activities.
Also Read: Operation Octopus: How Modi govt’s pan India crackdown crushed the spine of anti-India nexus
PFI: SIMI 2.0
In the last decades of the 20th century, the nation witnessed the emergence of a dreaded notorious Islamic outfit named as the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The organisation was formed in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh in April 1977.
It had a stated mission to “liberate India” by converting it to an Islamic land. It launched a Jihad against India aiming to establish Dar-ul-Islam (land of Islam) by forced conversion or by bloodshed and violence.
Soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, India too launched a counter offensive against all the terrorist organisations posing a threat to India. The same year, that is, in 2001, the Government of India declared SIMI as a terrorist organisation.
The ban was lifted for a while in August 2008. However, the then CJI K.G. Balakrishnan reinstated the ban on SIMI on the grounds of national security. Apparently, PFI was formed soon after the ban was imposed on SIMI. PFI was nothing but the changed name of that dreaded Jihadi outfit, SIMI.
Evidently, in 2006, PFI was formed after the merger of three extremist Muslim organisations – the National Development Front (NDF) of Kerala, Karnataka Forum for Dignity and Manitha Neethi Pasari of Tamil Nadu.
Initially, the PFI based its headquarters in Kozhikode, Kerala. Later, the appeasement politics allowed the Islamic outfit to carry its nefarious anti-India acts unabated and it spread its ugly tentacles to other states as well.
PFI’s close association with international terrorist organisations
In 2016, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested seven ISIS sympathisers from Kerala. It was reported that the terror accused were inspired by Islamic Research Foundation’s (IRF) founder Zakir Naik.
Notably, the absconder and proscribed hate preacher Zakir Naik carries out illegal forced conversions, brainwashing and instigating terrorism through his preaching.
Back then, the NIA informed that the busted module was planning Nice-style attacks on community events. It had religious gatherings in Kochi on its target. The module had intended to buy a second-hand vehicle and load it with explosives. Later, just like the Nice-attack it would ram the explosives-laden vehicle into the religious gathering.
Reportedly, one accused Manseed alias Omar al-Hindi was the chief of the Islamic State’s module in the country. Earlier, he had worked with the intelligence department of Popular Front India (PFI) for 12 years. Apparently, his role was to keep track of the activities of RSS and its functionaries in Kerala.
Reportedly, many more terror suspects who joined Islamic State (ISIS) had links with PFI. Many of these terror accused were killed in Syria and other Jihadi acts.
PFI finances and projects
The Enforcement Directorate revealed that the outfit used to launder money in the name of charity, remittances or through hotels. The agency found that one accused Abdul Razak, a PFI leader, played a major role in raising funds from various sources in Kerala and abroad for Rehab India Foundation (RIF).
As per a statement of ED, more than Rs 60 crore were funnelled into the accounts of PFI since 2009. RIF linked accounts alone received Rs 58 crore since 2010. Reportedly, it received large cash donations from various sources. Evidently, the financial agency had to freeze 10 bank accounts linked with RIF.
As per a media report, ED stated, “The PFI operated a lot of bank accounts in the name of different organisations set up by them, including RIF. They have been getting huge support from Keralites having a network in Middle East countries.”
Additionally, a UAE-based hotel served as a money laundering front for raising illicit money for the PFI. In its charge sheet filed earlier, the ED found links of Rs 22 crore to be “proceeds of crime” raised through the hotel front by PFI. The Darbar restaurant and Tamar India Spices Pvt. Ltd. (TISPL) were a prominent money laundering front for PFI and its associated organisations.
The terror acts of the PFI and its associated organisations are still fresh in the memories of the general public. Right from the brutal case of chopping the hand of Kerala professor TJ Joseph to the alleged involvement in Delhi, Bengaluru and Rajasthan riots among other illicit activities like forced conversions etc., the PFI had its imprint on each and every major communal incident wreaking havoc in India.
With relentless actions, raids, arrests and this ban, the security agencies have shown their tough resolve against any form of terrorism. It is high time that hard lessons are learned from the past and the SIMI-PFI episode doesn’t repeat this time and PFI is banned now.
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