This Thursday was indeed the most thrilling day of the year, as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) orchestrated a coordinated crackdown on the terror group Popular Front of India (PFI). More than 100 people, including the PFI chairman, have been arrested in these raids in 13 states. This is the biggest action against training activities and terror funding of PFI and its associated people.
PFI has been raided in which states?
In an unprecedented effort, the NIA and ED have conducted raids in 13 states. These include Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra.
NIA and ED raided the house of PFI national president OMA Salam and PFI’s Delhi head Parvez Ahmed at Manjeri in Malappuram district and arrested both of them. PFI and SDPI activists are protesting at different places against the NIA raids. However, they have been taken into custody.
PFI is a radical Islamic organization, which is involved in violent and terror activities across the country. In 2017, the NIA had written to the Home Ministry to ban this notorious organization. The NIA investigation also considers it a threat to national security. PFI functions to impose religious fundamentalism on Muslims and forcibly convert Hindus and Christians.
What is PFI?
The Popular Front of India (PFI) was formed on February 17, 2007. PFI was created by merging three radical Islamic organizations such as Kerala’s National Democratic Front, Karnataka Forum for Dignity, and Tamil Nadu’s Manitha Neethi Pasrai. The PFI claims that it is active in 23 states of the country.
After the ban on the Students Islamic Movement i.e. SIMI in the country, PFI has expanded rapidly. This organization is said to have a lot of hold in south Indian states like Karnataka, Tamilnadu, and Kerala. It also has many branches. Since its formation, the PFI has been accused of carrying out anti-social, anti-national, and anti-Hindu activities.
How PFI gets the Fund?
In February last year, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a charge sheet against five members of the PFI and its student wing Campus Front of India (CFI) in a money laundering case. The ED investigation had revealed that PFI national general secretary K A Rauf used to collect funds for PFI under the guise of business deals in Gulf countries. This money was passed on to people associated with PFI and CFI through different means.
As per ED, an amount of about Rs 1.36 crore was received through criminal means. A part of it was spent on the conduct of illegal activities of PFI and CFI in India. The use of this money was also revealed in the protests against the CAA, and riots in Delhi in 2020. After 2013, the activities of money transfer and cash deposits by PFI have increased rapidly. The investigating agency says that money comes through hawala to PFI in India.
Is there any connection between PFI and SIMI?
Often PFI is called the changed form of SIMI itself. SIMI, which has been active in the country since 1977, was banned in 2006. The PFI came into existence only a few months after SIMI was banned. It is said that the functioning of this organization is also similar to SIMI. Since 2012, there have been many allegations against this organization on different occasions. Many times there has been a demand to ban it.
PFI is a successor of the National Democratic Front (NDF), which was founded in Kerala’s Kozhikode in 1989 following political clashes. Martial arts training centers came come up in Kozhikode for the Muslim youth and the NDF took shape there. Babri Masjid demolition provided an impetus to Muslim organizations in Kerala to form resistance groups to meet the challenges from the Sangh Parivar, according to a 2017 NIA dossier on PFI.
Infamous and Anti-National Activities of PFI
PFI has been involved in various anti-national activities. Here we have collated some important facts for you.
Islamic State recruitment – PFI has been accused of having links with terror organizations like the Islamic State. In 2017, the Kerala police registered a case, known as the Valapattanam IS recruitment case after two of those convicted were arrested in Turkey and deported to India, as they were trying to sneak into Syria to join IS.
According to the police, these convicted persons were part of the Kannur module of the IS. There were approx. 40 to 50 PFI activists from the Kannur district, mainly from the Valapattanam region, who joined the IS in Syria. In July, an NIA court in Kochi sentenced three PFI members, who were convicted in a case about recruitment to the terrorist group.
Killing RSS members – RSS and BJP usually accuse the PFI of being responsible for the murder of Hindutva activists. Various PFI workers in Kerala have been arrested in connection with the killing of an RSS leader in the district in April. In 2016, the PFI’s Bengaluru district president was arrested in connection with the murder of RSS leader R Rudresh.
Love Jihad – The PFI has been accused of spreading the “love jihad”. They have been accused of orchestrating a conspiracy to target Hindu women and convert them to Islam. There are multiple cases lodged against the PFI members in connection with this conspiracy.
Bengaluru Riots – On 11 August 2020, riots broke out the Karanataka’s Bengaluru, when violent clashes were reported at KG Halli Police Station. The violence was triggered after an inflammatory Facebook post on the Prophet by Naveen, the nephew of Congress MLA from Pulakeshi Nagar, Akhanda Srinivas Murthy. In December 2020, the NIA arrested office-bearers, active members, and sympathizers of the PFI and its political outfit the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) in this case.
Anti-CAA protests – PFI’s name cropped up during the nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). It was accused of triggering violent protests in Uttar Pradesh. The ED alleged that PFI had funded the protests against the CAA and the National Register of Citizens. Twenty-one PFI members were also arrested for arson and violence during the anti-CAA protests in Mangaluru on 19 December 2019.
2020 Delhi riots – The 2020 riots in northeast Delhi saw large-scale violence, bloodshed, and destruction of property as Hindus and Muslims clashed. Fifty-three people were killed in the violence. The PFI was accused of instigating and funding the Delhi riots. PFI’s Delhi chief Parvez Ahmed and secretary Mohammad Iliyas were arrested in connection with the case.
Kerala gold smuggling racket – In July 2020, as a gold smuggling racket was busted in Kerala, investigators probed possible links to the Muslim outfit. It is said that this smuggled gold may have been used by the PFI to fund “anti-national” terror activities, some intelligence sources said. The NIA and ED were also probing the possibility that the money was used to finance the anti-CAA protests.
Karnataka Hijab Row – The hijab row came to the fore on 1 January at Government PU College in Udupi after six students claimed that they were not allowed to enter classrooms wearing headscarves. This snowballed into widespread protests which spread to other parts of the country. Muskan, the student who was heckled by a group of Hindu boys, and became a face of the protest, was allegedly linked to the radical group, according to some media reports.