New Delhi: The Centre, on Wednesday, banned the Popular Front of India (PFI) by declaring it an unlawful association. The government notification read: "PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts operate openly as a socio-economic, educational and political organization but, they have been pursuing a secret agenda to radicalize a particular section of the society working towards undermining the concept of democracy and show sheer disrespect towards the constitutional authority and constitutional set up of the country”
The Centre listed these reasons behind the PFI ban:
- The government also reasoned that PFI which was launched in Kerala in 2006 was indulging in unlawful activities which threatened the security of the country and could disturb communal harmony and peace.
- In addition, it stated that PFI was supportive of militancy in the country.
- PFI’s founding members were leaders of the banned terrorist organization Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and are linked to Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), said the government officials.
- The notification claimed the PFI was linked with global terrorist outfits such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
- It further stated PFI promotes radicalization and a sense of insecurity in the country.
"The Central Government, having regard to the above circumstances, is of the firm opinion that it is necessary to declare the PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts as an unlawful association with immediate effect, and accordingly, in the exercise of the powers conferred by the proviso to sub-section (3) of section 3 of the said Act, the Central Government hereby directs that this notification shall, subject to any order that may be made under section 4 of the said Act, have effect for a period of five years from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette," it said.
Prior to the ban, the National Investigation Agency had conducted two phases of pan-India raids on PFI premises dubbed Operation Octopus.
The National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate, and the state police forces jointly coordinated searches at the houses and offices of the PFI leaders and members across India.
Searches were conducted at 93 locations in 15 states of India in which over 100 activists of the Popular Front of India (PFI) were arrested.
The states where the raids were conducted included Andhra Pradesh (4 places), Telangana (1), Delhi (19), Kerala (11), Karnataka (8), Tamil Nadu (3), Uttar Pradesh (1), Rajasthan (2), Hyderabad (5), Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, Bihar, and Manipur.
The searches were conducted in connection with five cases registered by the NIA following "continued inputs and evidence" that the PFI leaders and cadres were involved in the funding of terrorism and terrorist activities, organising training camps for providing armed training and radicalising people to join banned organisations.
(With agency inputs)