PFI president alleges ED raids planned ‘distraction’ from farmers’ protests
The controversial Popular Front of India has condemned the raids carried out by the Enforcement Directorate on premises and entities linked to the front and its office bearers on Thursday and alleged that it was part of vendetta politics.
“It is a politically-motivated move. It is aimed at distracting from the farmers’ strike,” said OMA Salam, the president of the front. Salam is employed with Kerala state electricity board.
Salam’s condemnation follows raids carried out by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on offices and residences of PFI leaders in Kerala in connection with the money laundering case filed by the central agency.
Premises of PFI national chairman OMA Salam, national secretary Naseeruddin Elamaraom and state leader Karamana Ashraf Moulavi, were among the raided entities. In Thiruvananthapuram and Malappuram, angry PFI workers tried to block raiding officials and later local police had to intervene.
A senior official of the ED said it was part of a nationwide raid and 26 locations were searched in Delhi and eight other states.
A radical outfit, PFI is often considered to be an offshoot of the banned Students’ Islamic Front of India (SIMI). It all started when Abdul Nasser Madani, an accused in Bangalore and Coimbatore blast cases, founded Islamic Seva Sangh on the lines of RSS after the Babri mosque demolition in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.
Later, when Madani was in jail in connection with the Coimbatore blasts, the leaders of the Islamic Seva Sangh formed the National Development Front. Later, the front merged with Manitha Neethi Pasarai of Tamil Nadu and Forum for Dignity, a Karnataka-based outfit, to form the Popular Front of India (PFI).
In Kerala, most of the front’s erstwhile leaders are members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The PFI describes itself as a neo-social movement committed to empower people belonging to the minority communities, Dalits and other weaker sections of the society. In Kerala, a retired professor P Koya is considered as the tallest leader of the organisation.
Now, the PFI claims to have units in 22 states. Officials in the intelligence agencies say it successfully exploited a growing vacuum in the minority community by portraying itself as a ‘saviour’.
Since its inception, the outfit has been mired in many clashes and political murders. It was allegedly involved in at least 30 political murders in Kerala. In 2015, 13 of its workers were awarded life-term in prison for chopping the palm of a college professor, T J Joseph, who prepared a question paper, alleged to be blasphemous.
In 2017, six PFI activists were held in connection with the murder of an ABVP leader in Kannur and nine were arrested for allegedly killing SFI leader Abhimanyu in Maharaja College in Ernakulam in 2018. The front is currently being probed for alleged funding of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests.
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