After nationwide raids, calls to impose ban on PFI grow louder

Updated on Sep 23, 2022 07:04 AM IST

Under investigation for its role in violent protests in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), alleged forced conversions, radicalisation of Muslim youth, money laundering and maintaining links with banned groups, the calls for a ban on PFI are not new.

NIA accused PFI of having links with several left-wing extremist organisations that run fake campaigns on police atrocities, fake encounters, imprisonment of innocent people by falsely implicating them in terror cases, and against UAPA (PTI)
NIA accused PFI of having links with several left-wing extremist organisations that run fake campaigns on police atrocities, fake encounters, imprisonment of innocent people by falsely implicating them in terror cases, and against UAPA (PTI)
ByNeeraj Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Following nationwide raids on the top leaders and key office-bearers of the Popular Front of India (PFI) on Thursday, investigators and officials called for banning the Islamic fundamentalist organisation.

Under investigation for its role in violent protests in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), alleged forced conversions, radicalisation of Muslim youth, money laundering and maintaining links with banned groups, the calls for a ban on PFI are not new.

In January 2018, during a closed-door meeting organised by the Intelligence Bureau, then Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju had said that the ministry of home affairs (MHA) was considering banning PFI under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA. Such a move, central agency officials say, will considerably restrict the activities of the outfit.

Once an organisation is banned under the first schedule of UAPA, it cannot carry out its activities, and agencies have a free hand to attach its properties, and trace its links in India and abroad. Currently, 42 organisations have been banned under first schedule of UAPA. These include JeM, Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al-qaeda, Babbar Khalsa International etc.

The following year, in 2019, a proposal was sent by the then Uttar Pradesh police chief OP Singh to the Centre asking to declare PFI as a proscribed organisation under the UAPA.

“We had found in our investigation that PFI was quite assertive in their activities and had footprints in western UP. Various incriminating documents and other material, interrogation of almost 50 accused in eight cases revealed that PFI had links with terror activities, they were organising training camps and radicalising people,” Singh, who retired in January 2020, told HT on Thursday.

The National Investigation Agency, which has investigated about a dozen cases linked to PFI, also termed the outfit as a “threat to the national security” in one of its internal documents in 2017.

People familiar with the process, the procedure for banning an organisation is that the central anti-terror agency, NIA, sends a formal proposal for consideration by the ministry of home affairs with available material.

On July 10, 2019, the MHA banned Sikhs for Justice in the similar manner.

NIA also accused PFI of having links with several left-wing extremist organisations that run fake campaigns on police atrocities, fake encounters, imprisonment of innocent people by falsely implicating them in terror cases, and against UAPA.

“All these activities are enough to ban PFI,” said an NIA officer who asked not to be named.

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