After several episodes of a crackdown against the Popular Front of India (PFI), the Union government on Wednesday issued an order declaring PFI as an unlawful association and banned it for a period of five years. The centre has also banned eight outfits that were associated with PFI and the clampdown has come when the central agencies have carried out unprecedented raids against the front and its leaders.
The order of banning these outfits has attracted national attention and the fast developments around PFI for the past few days have been in the spotlight. As part of their national operation, the central agencies National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) have launched a massive raid on PFI and its associates and have arrested the leaders of these outfits. These raids happened after PFI was accused of involving in several anti-national activities.
In ten points: Explaining the ban on PFI and what the Centre had to say
- Under the allegation of being an unlawful association, the Centre had banned PFI under Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, for a period of five years.
- Along with PFI, eight of its affiliates have also been banned and these eight outfits are - Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), National Women's Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation, and Rehab Foundation, Kerala.
- In its notification, the Centre has said that the ban was recommended by the state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Gujarat.
- The Income Tax Department has also cancelled the registration granted to PFI and Rehab India Foundation under Section 12A of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
- The Income Tax Department has said that 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.
- Banning PFI, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs said that the PFI was involved in several criminal and terror cases and shows sheer disrespect to the constitutional authority of the country. It noted that PFI has external funds and ideological support which have become an 'internal threat' to India.
- The banning notification has also reminisced the incident of PFI members severing the hands of a Malayalam professor in Kerala and listed out several murders committed by the members of PFI, including the killing of Sasi Kumar in Tamil Nadu in 2016, Bibin in Kerala in 2017, Ramalingam in Tamil Nadu in 2019, Sanjith in Kerala in 2021, and BJP leader Praveen Nettaru in Karnataka this year.
- The notification said, "PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts operate openly as a socio-economic, educational, and political organization but, they have been pursuing a secret agenda to radicalise 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."
- The Centre said that it was of the firm opinion that it was necessary to declare PFI and its associates to be an unlawful association with immediate effect. The Home Ministry shared its assessment that PFI created the associates with the objective of enhancing its reach among different sections of the society such as youth, students, women, Imams, lawyers, or weaker sections of the society with the sole objective of expanding its membership influence and fundraising capacity.
- "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 Centre added.
Highlighting the PFI's equation with militant organizations, the Centre said that some activists of the PFI had joined ISIS and participated in terror activities in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Some of these PFI cadres linked to ISIS have been killed in these conflict theatres and some have been arrested by state police and central agencies. It has noted that PFI projected the funds as legitimate and eventually used them to execute various unlawful, criminal, and terrorist activities in India.
It is pertinent to note that the demand to ban PFI has grown strong in recent times, especially from the BJP-ruled states and the three BJP-ruling states of Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat have recommended the Centre to impose the ban on the outfit. The leaders and functionaries of PFI across 15 states have come under raids on September 22 and the second round of raid was unfolded on Tuesday. According to government officials, a total of 247 people linked to PFI have been arrested so far.