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Hathras not the first time Kerala’s PFI is accused of ‘creating terror’, ‘breaking the nation’

Agencies allege Kerala-based Muslim organisation PFI funded anti-CAA protests & violence in Delhi & Mangaluru, radicalised terrorists & forced conversions.

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New Delhi: The Popular Front of India (PFI), the Kerala-based Muslim organisation, has once again been accused of “conspiring” to instigate communal violence in Uttar Pradesh in the aftermath of the alleged gang-rape and assault of a Dalit woman in Hathras on 14 September. The woman died two weeks after the incident in New Delhi, resulting in a public outcry over women’s safety — particularly that of Dalit women — and a lot of media and political attention.

The UP Police, so far, has filed 19 FIRs in connection with the Hathras incident, alleging attempts to disturb peace in the state, sedition, conspiracy and promoting religious hatred.

A journalist, who contributes for a popular Kerala-based website, and three other men were arrested in Mathura Monday over alleged links to the PFI after the UP Police received information that “suspicious people were on their way to Hathras from Delhi”.

According to the police, their mobile phones, a laptop and some literature “which could have an impact on peace, and law and order in the state” have been seized.

This is not the first time the PFI has been accused of being involved in “stoking communal riots and disrupting state machinery”. From the UP government seeking a ban on PFI last year over its alleged links to the state-wide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, to its alleged role in funding the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, and even the North-east Delhi riots that killed 53 people in February, the organisation’s name has cropped up in almost all sensitive cases as a “conspirator” and even “financier”.

However, a PFI spokesperson called the allegations against the organisation in connection with the Hathras case “baseless and ridiculous”.

“The new rounds of allegation against Popular Front are nothing but an attempt by the Uttar Pradesh government to divert the attention away from its failure to handle the Hathras rape case. The attempt to link Popular Front by alleging a conspiracy to incite caste or communal violence is completely baseless and ridiculous,” the spokesperson said.

“Time and again, the agencies controlled by the BJP government have tried to defame Popular Front, but everything turned out to be just diversion tactics.”

ThePrint takes a look at some high-profile cases in which the PFI has been accused of wrongdoing.

Also read: BJP blames radical PFI’s political arm for Bengaluru riots, police say investigation on

What is PFI?

The PFI is a Muslim political organisation based in Kerala, whose predecessor, the National Democratic Front (NDF), was formed in 1993 to allegedly “wage war” against the oppressors of Muslims.

Many organisations fall under the PFI umbrella — National Women’s Front, Social Democratic Party of India, Karnataka Forum for Democracy, Manitha Neethi Pasarai, the Citizen’s Forum in Goa, the Association of Justice in Andhra Pradesh, and more. They are said to hold classes in weapons training and highlight the sacrifices expected of the recruits.

They are allegedly shown videos of the torture experienced by the Muslim community and asked to take an oath of allegiance to the organisation and the cause of Islam.

The SDPI, which replaced the NDF in 2009, is a political party, that has contested assembly elections in Tamil Nadu (2016), Karnataka (2013 and 2018) and Kerala (2016), but won no seats. But the NIA has raided it repeatedly and accused it of spearheading a weapons training camp at Narath in 2013, where 21 PFI members were arrested.

The PFI in Kerala is said to have about three lakh supporters and 25,000 members. No government till now has banned the PFI, despite it being accused of carrying out at least 30 high-profile murders, including that of RSS leader Rudresh in Bengaluru in October 2018.

‘Funded anti-CAA demonstrations’

In January, this year the Enforcement Directorate (ED) submitted a report to the Ministry of Home Affairs stating that the PFI had mobilised money to “finance the cost of demonstrations and gherao against the CAA Bill till 6 January 2020”.

According to sources in the ED, the agency had “stumbled upon” the information while investigating the PFI’s role in a 2018 case registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED claimed it came across bank account details that suggested Rs 120.50 crore was credited to accounts related to the PFI, and that there is a direct correlation between the dates of deposits and withdrawals from these accounts and the dates of demonstrations against the CAA in different parts of the country.

The ED report also mentioned that multiple cash deposits of large amounts were made through PFI’s account in Syndicate Bank, Nehru Place, New Delhi, to accounts in districts of UP such as Bahraich, Bijnor, Hapur, Shamli, Dasna.

The agency also drew up a graph with dates of withdrawals made from accounts of PFI and Rehab India Foundation, an outfit connected to PFI, between 4 December 2019 and 6 January 2020, alongside the days of protests and their magnitude — violent or peaceful.

PFI general secretary Mohammed Ali Jinnah had rejected the ED’s claims as “totally baseless”.

“The people who are levelling these allegations should prove these claims,” he said.

When the UP administration sought a ban on the PFI ban for its involvement in inciting violence during the anti-CAA protests, the organisation again denied all allegations, with Jinnah calling them “absurd” and a “face-saving act” by the Uttar Pradesh Police.

Also read: Popular Front of India — radical outfit with ‘SIMI links’ now under CAA protests scanner

‘Funded north-east Delhi riots’

The Delhi Police Special Cell, in its charge sheet on the north-east Delhi riots, has accused the PFI of providing logistical and financial support to rioters in February this year.

The charge sheet also mentions that JNU scholar Umar Khalid was in constant touch with members of PFI, who were pumping in money.

In March this year, PFI’s Delhi president Parvez Ahmed and secretary Mohammad Illiyas were arrested for allegedly conspiring to incite violence in north-east Delhi.

PFI chairman O.M.A Salam had, however, called it a “witch-hunt”.

“Witch-hunt of student activists who took part in anti-CAA protests by using draconian laws is nothing but communal and political vendetta,” Salam had said.

According to the police, provocative speeches were made across the country to mobilise crowds ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit, which coincided with the riots.

Moreover, the ED also booked the PFI, along with suspended Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain, on charges of money laundering and allegedly funding the communal riots. Officials alleged that Hussain had received funds from PFI to arrange for logistics.

This case is different from the one registered by the ED earlier to probe the PFI’s alleged funding of anti-CAA protests.

Mangaluru violence

Violent protests broke out against the CAA in December last year in Mangaluru, Karnataka, resulting in two deaths.

Weeks later, the Mangaluru Police claimed to have collected crucial evidence showing that provocative messages were shared by groups affiliated to outfits like the PFI and its political wing, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), to incite the violence.

Two persons — Abubakar Siddique and Moideen Hamiz — were arrested and notices issued to 30 others, including PFI and SDPI members. The two men were charged under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Section 124A, which deals with sedition.

No statement was made by the PFI in this regard.

Also read: As UP seeks ban on Muslim body PFI, Mamata govt distances itself from the organisation

PFI-Tablighi Jamaat link

In April this year, the Delhi Police Crime Branch claimed to have found a link between the PFI and the Tablighi Jamaat, which was slammed for holding a religious congregation in Delhi in March that led to the spread of the Covid-19 infection.

The police had claimed that the funds for holding this congregation were being pumped in by the PFI. The ED in April also registered a case of money laundering against Tablighi Jamaat to find the “source of funds” for its events.

The Crime Branch had also sent a detailed questionnaire to the Tablighi Jamaat, not just on the congregation and its participants, but also sought details of the organisation’s income tax returns of the last three years, bank account statements and relevant PAN numbers.

The PFI didn’t comment on this development either.

Radicalised masterminds of Sri Lanka Easter bombings’

In May 2019, PFI offices were raided as Indian intelligence officers suspected the organisation, along with the Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath, played a part in radicalising the masterminds of the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka the previous month, which killed over 250 people.

The NIA raided eight offices of the PFI and three of the Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath. Raids were also conducted on offices of the SDPI, though these were related to the murder of PMK leader Ramalingam on 5 February.

Although it is not a banned outfit, the PFI has been under the radar of the NIA as its members were linked to ISIS modules in Kerala that went on to join the terror outfit.

The NIA, in a detailed report to the Ministry of Home Affairs in September 2017, claimed that the PFI is a “threat to national security” and is using outfits like Sathya Sarani in Malappuram to carry out “forced conversions”.

Love Jihad’

While probing the controversial Hadiya ‘love jihad’ case in 2017, NIA had claimed to have found a strong link between two cases of conversion of women to Islam.

NIA had said that four men, suspected to be associated with the PFI, forced Kerala resident Akhila Asokan to convert and take the name Hadiya, and are also suspected to have “encouraged” Athira Nambiar’s conversion.

The Kerala Police also handed over a list of 94 cases of suspected forced conversion, asking the central agency to examine them and see if there was a pattern. Of these, at least 23 marriages were suspected to have been facilitated by the PFI, the NIA had claimed.

In October 2018, NIA concluded the probe after it did not find any “evidence of coercion” that could result in prosecution.

Soon after, a report in Coastal Digest carried a comment from Jinnah stating that NIA’s findings regarding the “non-existence of love jihad” is a “triumph for truth” and a “big blow to the forces that survive on falsehood”.

(With inputs from Rohini Swamy)

Also read: NIA, ED probe ‘link’ between Kerala gold smuggling racket and PFI, anti-CAA protests

(This article has been updated with fresh comments from a PFI spokesperson)

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    I have information and eye witnesses who will attest that PFI is responsible for helping the BRITISH squash the 1857 WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE.
    Please call me urgently. Thank you

  2. There is an alliance between the PFI/SDPI islamic fundamentalist group and the left communists in Kerala to prevent BJP/RSS growth through violent means. The Congress party has largely looked the other way, giving a silent consent. This support from the ruling governments in Kerala has been used by PFI and other Islamic organizations to use Kerala as a base for attacks across India. They have used the existence of large number of migrants from Kerala in middle-east countries to transfer funds from there to India. PFI came from NDF which came up from SIMI. The problem with banning is that they will come up in another name.

  3. A comment on writing. We know what NIA is. But a full form will help at the beginning when introduced first time in the article. Secondly, I had to sruggle to find out full form of SDPI from the article. Requesting you to look into this matter. I personally am a big admirer of The Print and would like it to as seamless and error less as it can best be.

  4. We know how concerned Mallu muslims are with Kashmir. Basically, more Kashmiri than the Kashmiri themselves. I will not surprised if there is indeed a link between Mallu activists and all.of this

  5. It’s like an official version spoon fed by the agencies who have been faced wide criticism for their political bias and submissiveness to the ruling party. Better to hear them also that is what we believe as ‘democracy’. Any organisation or individuals can be painted as anti-nationals and terror instigators except those who associated with right-wing parties. We have handful of examples to which Ananya is more aware.

  6. The writer is an Islamophob. She acuuses the PFI without any evidence . Can she dare to write such an article against the Hindu extremists organizations ?

    • Also they have links with SIMI they were also found guilty for having connection with ISIS and when they were caught red handed they said,”those men left PFI long ago”. Seriously? We believe whatever they say but when a right says something then we assume that he is lying. Wake up people of india. There main motto is to apply muslim code of conduct thats all. Wake up.

  7. It is due to Hindu cowardness, the president of PFI name is Mohammad Ali Jinnah, shame on Hindus, its an open provocative challenge to Hindus, Muslims naming their children with Mohammad Ali Jinnah, its a shame that Muslims are allowed to stay in India after 1947 Partition, shame on Hindus to allow Nehru and Gandhi to dictate politics after 1947.

    • This is because from 1947 we have given
      full License no question asked condition
      to muslims who demanded and got
      their seperate land out of Bharath Varsh
      in the name of secular democracy!!
      The people who was at the helm of affairs
      failed to see the “coming” and also the
      people who continue to rule maximum
      time in the affairs of ruling this country.
      This. people were mostly after power and
      pelf besides incompetent to rule a vast
      country like Bharat with vast diversity but united for millions of years,
      with superior civilization value of which
      there is no comparison in the world.
      No, I am not a
      “blind bhakt” as people will be eager
      to brand me for the above comment.
      Just an enlighted and in aware common
      man as Swamy Vivekanda asked us
      to be.

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