Global terror recruiter PFI headed for a UAPA ban by Centre
The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist squad had arrested six members of the PFI from Meerut and Varanasi on Saturday, accusing them of working on the agenda of PFI and other extremist organisations with an intention of making India an Islamic nation by 2047.
After country-wide multiple raids on September 22 in 15 states, the Union Home Ministry is all set to include Islamist Popular Front of India (PFI) in the list of already 42 banned terrorist organisations under Section 35 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
The relevant section of the UAPA, 1967 reads that an organisation shall be deemed to be involved in terrorism if it commits or participate in acts of terrorism; prepares for terrorism; promotes or encourages terrorism or otherwise involved in terrorism.
On the basis of evidence, intelligence and preliminary interrogation of more than 106 PFI suspects including chairman OMA Salam, the enforcement and intelligence agencies are going to recommend that the so-called socio-religious organisation be banned under the UAPA law.
It is understood that the national security planners are legally examining the evidence collected and the violence post arrest of PFI leaders before they recommend banning of the Islamist organisation. According to NIA, the organisation is India recruiter and radicaliser for global jihadist groups including al Qaeda, Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba.
While seeking judicial remand of the PFI suspects, the NIA in its application opposed the bail and argued that the accused would abscond and also tamper with the evidence as they are highly influential as seen from the repercussions after their arrest.
The NIA said the investigations revealed that the accused have used various social media platforms for their secret communications. The central agency had sought judicial remand to forensically analyse the digital devices seized during raids to unearth the larger conspiracy.
As the raids have been continuing since September 22, the enforcement and intelligence agencies have found that the PFI-SDPI network was planning to target top leaders of BJP and the RSS.
As of now, the national security planners are examining the reports from Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad on the PFI network.
According to officials in know of the developments, the banning of the PFI under UAPA may not wipe out the organisation in India but act as a massive disruptor of their pro-terror setup. Just like the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) morphed into Indian Mujahideen and PFI, the latter has been preparing itself for government raids and ban for the past two years.
It is perhaps due to this pre-emption by the PFI that the enforcement agencies have not been able to recover either huge amounts of illegal cash or arms and ammunition.
On Friday, PFI members had hurled crude bombs, damaged buses and attacked police personnel during the post-raid violence in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
In 2020, the ministry of home affairs had put together a dossier in the aftermath of the anti-CAA protest violence, pointing to the funding received by the PFI. According to the report, the PFI received funding from countries like UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman
The PFI members actively operate in the UAE through frontal outfits like the the Rehab Foundation, the Indian Social Forum, and Indian Fraternity Forum. PFI leaders maintain an office at Muraba, behind Lulu hypermarket in Al Ain in Dubai, and are active in spreading Islamic fundamentalism and raising funds to be sent to India, the dossier adds.
The Indian Fraternity Forum in Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia is also involved in raising funds for it, the dossier says. “Senior PFI leaders visit these countries and urge members to facilitate jobs to Indian Muslims so that the base of the organisation expands along with the funds flow,” said a senior government official.