February 2, 2023 1:17 am


Preaching for Islamic Country, Ban on PFI was Coming

Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Sept 28, 2022 finally banned PFI and its eight affiliate organisations for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967.

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Ban on the Popular Front of India could not come at a more appropriate moment as the Islamic political organisation had plans to make India an Islamic country by 2047.

In the garb of a “neo-social movement” for empowering all marginalised groups in the country, PFI carried forward its nefarious agenda, motivating followers of Islam in India to commit hate crimes. Through its lectures and other activities, PFI even advised the Muslims to keep bricks, stones, and other sharp objects on the terrace of their houses, evidently revealing the organisation’s evil designs and role in communal rioting.

They may have started as a movement by supporting the nation’s underprivileged citizens and fighting against oppression and exploitation. But it’s true intentions to hurt the country were revealed with the passage of time. Following a major pan-India crackdown, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Sept 28, 2022, finally banned PFI and its eight affiliate organisations for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967.

Founded in the year 2006, the PFI’s roots can be traced back to the period 1993. It all started with a political group known as the National Development Front (NDF), which was founded in Kerala to defend the concerns of the Muslim community in the state in the aftermath of the Babri Mosque demolition. An Intelligence Bureau official was quoted by India Today Magazine in a February 1999 issue stating that ‘three years after its formation in 1993, the NDF started a clandestine wing. “The overt wing organised seminars and held adult education camps, while the covert wing was responsible for bomb attacks, stockpiling arms, training cadres and so on”.

As the NDF grew, it tried to consolidate with like-minded parties from southern states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka to increase its impact across the country. The NDF was soon linked to numerous instances of inter-communal conflict and attacks.

Pinarayi Vijayan, the Communist Party of India’s State Secretary at the time, declared the NDF to be a terrorist group. Two police officials later repeated the accusation that NDF was funded by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency in 2005.

However, in 2006, the NDF allied with a number of other groups from nearby states, renaming itself the Popular Front of India. And thus PFI was born. The PFI also has a women’s wing in Kerala known as the National Women’s Front and a student wing, Campus Front of India.

Interestingly, PFI’s expansion in the country has been phenomenal. It successfully exploited a gaping hole in the community by appearing as a hero. The effective portrayal of the image aids PFI in raising money, particularly from wealthy Middle Eastern nations.

In 2007, The National Democratic Front in Kerala, the Karnataka Forum for Dignity, and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu, three Muslim organisations in southern India, became part of the Popular Front of India.

The PFI merged with a few additional organisations over the course of the following three years, including the Goa Citizen’s Forum, the Community Social and Educational Society of Rajasthan, the Nagarik Adhikar Suraksha Samiti of West Bengal, the Lilong Social Forum of Manipur, and the Andhra Pradesh Association of Social Justice.

Kerala continued to host the majority of PFI operations despite representation from other states. In 2009, PFI gave rise to yet another group: the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) for Muslims, Dalits, and other marginalised people. SDPI had its support base of the PFI cadres.

In 2013, the police discovered that its cadres were wearing stars and emblems on their uniforms, and therefore the Kerala government banned its annual Independence Day freedom parade.

Many of the PFI’s founding members were Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) leaders. These individuals included PFI National Council Member Professor P. Koya, one of the PFI’s dominant leaders and a founding member of both SIMI and the NDF and incumbent PFI vice-chairman E.M. Abdul Rahiman. The latter served as the organisation’s general secretary from 1982 to 1993.

Koya once told ThePrint that he left SIMI in 1982 and joined the NDF in 1993 to respond to the “rise of Hindutva fascism” in the late 1980s and early 1990s. “The culmination of this surge of fascism was in 1992 when the Babri Masjid was demolished. It became apparent that traditional Muslim outfits weren’t able to articulate the concerns of the Muslim community,” Koya said. Koya emphasised that their beliefs were distinct, while the NDF and SIMI operated side by side for ten years prior to the latter’s dissolution. “SIMI said Islam was the only solution to India’s problem, but we hold that India is a pluralistic country with many religions. We never conformed to SIMI’s idea,” he, however, claimed.

“The PFI was an offshoot of the radical NDF. After Kerala-based People’s Democratic Party leader Abdul Nasser Madani was arrested in connection with terror attacks, the PDP turned into SDPI. Their politics is as communal as the RSS’s is,” claimed Paul Zacharia, a Malayalam writer and political columnist. The SDPI is also said to have links with All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which has its headquarters in Hyderabad and is led by Asaduddin Owaisi.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau claim that PFI has been aggressively advocating jihad. It has not been referred to as a “terror outfit” but rather as an “extremist organisation.” According to investigative teams, the PFI camps misrepresented as “Classes” are training grounds for extremist operations. The 2013 Narath weapons seizure in Kannur is the most glaring example. The PFI insisted that its members were taking part in a yoga camp, despite NIA’s claims that they were receiving training in the use of firearms and crude bombs. In 2016, about 21 of the accused PFI and SDPI activists were found guilty in this case for a range of offenses, including possessing weapons and explosives, engaging in a criminal conspiracy, and setting up a terror camp.

PFI has managed to dodge several accusations over time. Taking advantage of the minority appeasement politics of some political parties in the country, PFI managed to sustain itself despite its divisive agenda. The incumbent Home Ministry took a commendable step by announcing a five-year ban on PFI thus revealing its will to fight terror tooth and nail in the country……….. (This is part of a series of articles on PFI)

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