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Uttar Pradesh State govt has written to the Union Home Ministry seeking a ban on Popular Front of India-PFI. This was done after two dozen members of PFI were arrested from various parts of the state by UP police for their alleged involvement in violence during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. State police says it has impounded objectionable material from the arrested persons and a detailed report has been sent to the Home Ministry for further action
- The Popular Front of India (PFI) is an extremist and militant Islamic fundamentalist organisation in India formed as a successor to National Development Front (NDF) in 2006.
- It acquired a multi-state dimension by merging with the National Development Front, Manitha Neethi Pasarai, Karnataka Forum for Dignity and other organisations.
- The PFI describe themselves as a neo-social movement committed to empower people to ensure justice, freedom and security.
- Since its inception, the organisation has been accused of various antisocial and anti-national activities.
- The allegations include connections with various Islamic terrorist groups, possessing arms, kidnapping, murder, intimidation, hate campaigns, rioting, Love Jihad and various acts of religious extremism.
- In 2010, the assault on Prof. T. J. Joseph who published a controversial question paper, supposedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad, was linked to the PFI.
- In 2012, the Government of Kerala informed the High Court their opinion that the activities of the Popular Front are inimical to the safety of the country and that it is “nothing but a resurrection of the banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in another form”, in its argument to ban the organisation’s Independence Day programme, dubbed “Freedom Parade.”
- The High Court dismissed the Government’s stand, but upheld the ban imposed by the State Government.
- In July 2010, the Kerala Police seized country-made bombs, weapons and CDs and several documents containing Taliban and Al-Qaeda propaganda, from PFI activists.
- The raids conducted were subsequently termed “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional” by the organisation.
- As of 6 September 2010, as informed to the state high court by the Kerala government, no evidence has been found by the Police in its probe into the allegation of links to Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e Taiba (Let) or Al-Qaeda.
- However, in April 2013 a series of raids by the Kerala Police on PFI centres across North Kerala found lethal weapons, foreign currency, human shooting targets, bombs, explosive raw materials, gunpowder, swords, among other things. The Kerala Police claimed that the raid revealed the “terror face” of the PFI
- Past cases of extremist and terrorist attacks suggest that the reactions of the local police remain inadequate.
- The task of the police becomes difficult in the democratic society to deal with such issues as that in UP.
- While this was clearly apparent, which was a well-orchestrated attack sponsored by the group, responses to subsequent attacks do not indicate police capacities that are necessary for undertaking clinical operations to limit potential damage.
- Heavy concentration of people in public areas offers a large number of potential targets. While some installations have utilised the limited protection offered by private security measures, a large number of public places continue to remain vulnerable.
- A fast growing population, especially youth with access to mass media and social media, opens limitless avenues of unrestrained radical propaganda. This increases the possibility of subversion, given the unverified yet powerful platforms of messaging that promise liberation from everyday frustrations of the youth at their places of work, in society and across borders in conflict zones.
- While the popular discourse seems to suggest an increasing level of intolerance, the reality is quite different.
- They indulge with local people in peaceful protest and further their own agenda.
- They cover themselves under Human Rights organizations.
- Attacks by home grown groups is a threat that has proved its nefariousness in the recent times.
- The centre and states should look into the matters of this organization like their funding mechanisms etc.
- This is likely to be expanded through volunteers encouraged to undertake lone wolf attacks.
- Since they clearly hurt the sovereignty and integrity of India with adequate investigation, they should be banned under UAPA, 2019.
- India remains an important target for groups, which visualize the country’s democratic, secular and open social fabric as a threat to their concept. It is therefore important to undertake suitable proactive measures to limit the potential damage that can be caused by such attacks.