In what has become a massive clampdown against the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its affiliates after the episodes of raids and arrests of its leaders, the Union government has on Wednesday issued an order banning PFI and eight other outfits for five years for being indulging in unlawful and criminal activities. The ban has been imposed under Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
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. It also has sparked a nationwide debate where several political leaders reacted in favour and against the ban of PFI. A league of BJP leaders welcomed the Centre's decision to ban PFI and its affiliates. Speaking to reporters, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the move sends a message to all anti-national groups that they will not survive in this country.
Bommai further said, "For a long time, it has been a demand by the people of this country, by all political parties including the opposition CPI, CPI(M), and the Congress. PFI is the avatar of SIMI (banned Students' Islamic Movement of India) and KFD (Karnataka Forum for Dignity). They were involved in anti-national activities and violence."
Attributed the ban to the rise of a new India, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath welcomed the move. Taking to Twitter, he wrote, "The ban imposed on Popular Front of India (PFI) and its affiliated organizations indulging in anti-national activities is commendable and welcome. This is 'New India' where terrorists, criminals, organizations, and individuals who pose a threat to the unity and integrity of the nation and the security are not acceptable."
Speaking about the ban, BJP General Secretary Arun Singh said that the ban is a necessary step to keep the country intact. Welcoming the move, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted, "I welcome the ban on (Popular Front of India) PFI by the Government of India. The Government is firm in its resolve to ensure that anyone with a diabolical, divisive or disruptive design against India shall be dealt with an iron fist. India of Modi Era is Decisive & Bold."
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde thanked Union Home Minister Amit Shah for his decision and said the PFI had planned unrest in Maharashtra as well and was planning to create a communal divide. He stated, "PFI which raises 'Pakistan Zindabad' slogans doesn't have any right to raise such slogans in the country. Home Ministry will take action on that. The central govt has taken the right decision. It's a country of patriots."
Notably, the spiritual head of Ajmer Dargah, Zainul Abedin Ali Khan supported the decision to ban PFI. He said, "If the country is safe then we are safe, the country is bigger than any institution or idea and if someone talks about breaking this country, breaking the unity and sovereignty here, talks about spoiling the peace of the country, then he has no right to live here."
On the other hand, a Congress MP questioned why a similar ban shouldn't be imposed on RSS. Congress MP from Kerala, Kodikunnil Suresh said that the PFI ban is not the remedy. "RSS is also spreading Hindu communalism throughout the country. Both RSS & PFI are equal, so govt should ban both. Why only PFI?", he asked. National President of the Social Democratic Party, MK Faizy said that the BJP government's decision is a direct blow to democracy and the rights of people enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
Faizy said, "Whoever spoke against the wrong and anti-people politics of the BJP regime have faced the threats of arrests and raids from them. Freedom of speech, protests, and organization have been ruthlessly suppressed by the regime against the basic principles of the Indian constitution. The regime is misusing the investigation agencies and laws to silence the opposition and scare the people from expressing their voices of dissent. An undeclared emergency is clearly visible in the country."
Apart from these leaders, the All India Bar Association (AIBA) also welcomed the decision to ban PFI. In a statement, AIBA said that the government should totally disband the PFI network and stop its attempts to be reborn in a different manner. The association has thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for having conducted yet another 'surgical strike' to ensure national unity and integration by banning PFI.