In a late night notification yesterday, the government has banned the Popular Front of India and several of its associates, which has allegedly been involved in a series of violence and has “links” with global terror groups like ISIS, for five years following the second round of crackdown against its leaders.
According to the notification, the organisations which were also declared banned under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA include Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CF), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala.
In raids across the country, security agencies had detained more than 150 people allegedly linked with PFI yesterday five days after a similar pan-India crackdown against the 16-year-old group had led to the arrest of over a hundred of its activities and seizure of several dozen properties.
In a late Tuesday night notification, the Union home ministry said, “Whereas, the PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts operate openly as 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; And Whereas, the PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts have been indulging in unlawful activities, which are prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty and security of the country and have the potential of disturbing public peace and communal harmony of the country and supporting militancy in the country”.
The notification further said, “And Whereas, 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; And Whereas, there had been a number of instances of international linkages of PFI with Global Terrorist Groups like Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); And Whereas, the PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts 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 the some PFI cadres have joined international terrorist organisations”.
“Whereas the central government, having regard to the above circumstances, is of the firm opinion that it is necessary to declare the PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts association outlawed with immediate effect, and accordingly, in exercise of the powers conferred by the proviso to sub-section (3) of section 3 of the said Act, declares it as outlawed,” it said. The home ministry said Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat governments had also recommended a ban on PFI.
It claimed that PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts have been involved in 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.
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 internal security of the country, investigations in various cases have revealed that the PFI and its cadres have been repeatedly engaging in violent and subversive acts, the notification said, adding that criminal violent acts carried out by PFI include choppingoff 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 property.
The PFI cadres have been involved in several terrorist acts and murder of several persons, it said. The home ministry claimed investigations have established clear linkages between PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts.
It said Rehab India Foundation collects funds through PFI members. Some PFI members are also members of Campus Front of India, Empower India Foundation, and Rehab Foundation, Kerala. The activities of Junior Front, All India Imams Council. National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation and National Women’s Front are monitored/coordinated by the PFI leaders, the notification claimed
PFI created these associates or affiliates or fronts to enhance its reach among different sections of the society such as the youth, students, women, imams, lawyers or weaker sections of the society with the sole objective of expanding its membership, influence and fund-raising capacity, it said.
The Centre, through another notification, empowered the state governments to take action against these groups which were affiliated with the PFI and the possible action against them could be seizure of places and arrest of their members.The home ministry said these associates or affiliates or fronts have a ‘hub and spoke’ relationship and that PFI acts as the hub and utilises the mass outreach and fund-raising capacity of its associates or affiliates or fronts to strengthen its capability for unlawful activities and these associates or affiliates or fronts function as “roots and capillaries through which the PFI is fed and strengthened”, the ministry said in the notification.
The PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts operate openly as socio-economic educational and political organisations. But they have been pursuing a secret agenda to radicalise a particular section of the society, working towards undermining the concept of democracy and showing sheer disrespect towards the constitutional authority and constitutional setup of the country, it alleged.
The home ministry said there had been many instances of PFI’s linkages with global terrorist groups and some activists of its PFI have joined ISIS and participated in terror activities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of these PFI cadre were killed in these conflict theatres and some have been arrested by state police and central agencies, the Centre claimed.
The government notification said that the office bearers and cadre of PFI along with others are conspiring and raising funds from within India and abroad through banking channels, hawala and donations among others 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 for various criminal, unlawful and terrorist activities in India.
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. Therefore, the income tax department cancelled the registration granted to PFI under section 12A or 12AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961), it said. The income tax department also cancelled the registration of Rehab India Foundation.