The Popular Front of India (PFI), an Islamic Organisation that operates from most parts of the country, commenced with the creation of the National Development Front (NDF). The founders were Prof P Koya (National Vice Chairman/PFI), EM Abdul Rahiman (former Chairman and now NECM/PFI), E. Aboobacker (National President/ SDPI), Nasarudeen Elamaram (State President/SDPI).
It is more self-radicalisation that has driven their members to fearlessly indulge in a series of heinous offences ranging from political murders and hate campaigns to alleged forced conversions, possession of arms to murderous attacks.
Subsequently, to make itself a pan-Indian organisation, NDF shared their views with like-minded groups such as Manitha Neethi Pasarai(MNP) in Tamil Nadu and KFD (Karnataka Forum for Dignity) in Karnataka in the late 1990s. NDF subsequently merged with MNP of Tamil Nadu, KFD in Karnataka, Citizens Forum (Goa), Community and Social Education Society (Rajasthan), Nagrik Adhikar Suraksha Samithi (Andhra Pradesh), etc. to form the PFI.
The PFI describes itself as a “cadre-based movement” developed through routine training and education regarding management, leadership, and mass mobilisation. It calls itself a socio-political movement that strives to empower the Muslims and other marginalised sections of society.
PFI, a registered society in Delhi, has now spread to Manipur, Assam, UP, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and West Bengal, besides having a strong presence in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
In Kerala, PFI has a well-established organisation. It presently has around 60,000 regular members and 85,000 sympathisers in the State, with a 3 to 5 per cent growth rate per annum. The organisation has units, Area Committees, Division Committees and 14 District Committees. It has a 15–Member State Executive Committee and lower committees that exist in Muslim–dominated regions.
The presence of PFI is felt in almost all districts in Kerala. But it is comparatively strong in Kasaragod, Kannur, Kohzikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Eranankulam, Rural, Kollam and Thiruvanathapuram.
PFI floated numerous front organisations, entities and trusts, etc., almost simultaneously, which helped the organisation to spread its wings much faster in Kerala. Some major institutes are:- Campus Front India (Aug 2005), National Women Front ( NWF- July 2009), Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) on July 29, 2009, All India Imams Council (AIIC), Darul Khada, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (NCHRO), Rehab India Foundation (RIF), India Fraternity Forum (IFF), Muslim Relief Network (MRN), Media Research and Development Foundation (MRDF), Sathya Sarani, Green Valley Foundation (GVF).
Links with Terror-Outfits
Most of the office-bearers of the PFI, including members of the current leadership, have had an association with of Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) before it was banned. Even though members of the organisation have denied the connection, the organisation’s hierarchy gives critics ammunition.
Available sources and intelligence reports suggest that former SIMI members operate through various radical groups like the PFI. These radical groups are suspected to be using SIMI’s large network and resources to radicalise the youth. There are also reports which suggest that many of these groups are constantly changing their names to avoid police surveillance. Several names surface, who were SIMI members but are now the core members of PFI.
EM Abdurahiman, former Chairman and NECM/ PFI, All India General Secretary / SIMI (1980-81 & 1982-83); Prof P Koya, National Vice Chairman/ PFI & National General Secretary/ NCHRO; E. Aboobacker, All India President/ SDPI, Kerala State President/ SIMI (1982- 84) et al.; proves that PFI is the new face of the banned organisation.
It was unveiled that a large scale conspiracy against the Indian union was hatched by radical Islamists all over the world. Some suggest that some of the organisations funding radical Islamists, PFI, have also been linked to the global terrorist organisation, Al- Qaeda. Fundings and monetary aids from unregulated and illegal channels, including hawala transactions (an unofficial mode of transferring money to India from abroad), are the primary source of their bread and butter.
Muslim Relief Network (MRN), Kerala-based NGO, floated by PFI, receives donations from the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank. The Islamic Development Bank has been linked to the radical Islamist group World Assembly of Muslim Youth (Wamy), that is associated with Al-Qaeda.
In 2017, the Kerala Police claimed to have identified six PFI activists from Kannur district in Kerala who have joined the Islamic State. Kannur DYSP said that all six men were active as PFI activists in the State. The six were Abdul Ghayoom, Abdul Manaf, Shabeer, Suhail and his wife Rizwana, Safwan.
Police have uncovered a money trail behind the migration of youths from Kannur in Kerala to Syria to fight for the so-called Islamic State.
According to reports, the recruited youths from the State were paid by a local Popular Front of India activist, K-O-P Thasleem. Reportedly, Thasleem channelled the money through a hawala route from the Gulf.
A Swedish research organisation, Nordic Monitor in 2018, alleged an alliance between the Al- Qaeda-linked Turkish extremist group İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH) and radical Islamist organisation Popular Front of India (PFI). The meeting, clouded in secrecy, was part of Erdogan’s outreach towards Muslims in Southeast Asia. The two key PFI leaders who attended the meeting were EM Abdul Rahiman and Prof P Koya, members of the National Executive Council of the PFI, the report claims.
The Hifazat-e-Islam Bangladesh (HIB) and Islami Andolan Bangladesh (IOB) are Islamist formations that have re-emerged in current times. They are closely associated with PFI.
The Kerala–unit of PFI has said that it is confident that the Taliban, which resisted American forces in Afghanistan, will provide good administration in Afghanistan. Taliban, notorious for its atrocities, has been openly supported by such organisations.
Involvement in Anti- National Activities
One of the most infamous attacks carried out by PFI was the severing of a professor’s hand, who allegedly ‘hurt the religious sentiments of some Muslim students by his remarks on Prophet Mohammed.
Investigative agencies had found details in the alleged ‘conspiracy’ angle in the Hathras case, allegedly unearthing links of the PFI, SDPI and Amnesty International amongst others in allegedly funding riots in the State.
Against the backdrop of the Hathras case, the alleged conspirators launched a website called ‘Justice for Hathras’, which immediately garnered thousands of followers. As per the agencies, this website founded by people who were also involved in anti-CAA protests was then used to spread hate speeches, edited pictures, fake news, and edited videos, amongst others circulated on social media to incite ethnic and communal violence.
A journalist from Kerala, namely, Siddique Kappan has been staunchly linked with PFI and SIMI. Uttar Pradesh’s STF filed a chargesheet against him. He was arrested in October of last year; Kappan has been booked under the UAPA on charges of plotting riots in the aftermath of the death of a Dalit girl in UP’s Hathras. The chargesheet filed by NIA in the Narath arms training case is a clear sign of involvement of communal outfits like PFI and their political outfit SDPI in conducting arms training camps across the State under the pretence of health awareness camps and yoga classes. All the 22 accused persons in the Narath arms training case are members of these nefarious outfits, which are known for their communal leanings and dubious propaganda
Dismantling Global Hindutva
An outrageous virtual conference held in September 2021 titled ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva (DGH) Conference’, which seemed to look into the allegedly Hindu supremacist ideology from a scholarly perspective. NCHRO lent its support openly. The audacity that NCHRO has portrayed is alarming. Can we rely upon that NCHRO works for the protection of human rights in the real sense? All the evidence say otherwise! Is tolerance meant only for the ‘majority and none for the minority? Until when can we negate their scathing attacks on cultural identities.
PFI is not what it claims to be. Its evil actions and intentions have demonstrated that the political patronage of such sham organisations is believed to be catastrophic to the nation’s integrity
Ironically, even a reply from the majority is considered to be harassment of the minority. Thus, it shows how fragile and miserable their ideology is that they need such pathetic props to put forth their arguments. Now, let that sink in!
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) unearthed a direct link between anti-CAA protests in Uttar Pradesh and the PFI – sending a note stating the same to the Home Ministry. Moreover, the ED has found a link between the Rs. 120 crores deposited in 73 bank accounts allegedly belonging to PFI from various sources and the anti-CAA protests held in Uttar Pradesh.
Around two crores were deposited in 15 PFI bank accounts (10) and Rehab India Foundation (5) from December 4, when the CAA was presented at the Parliament, until January 6, 2020. The ED said that the amounts deposited were in the form of cash and IMPS. The amounts varied from Rs 5,000 to Rs 49,000. The ED said that the amount was kept below Rs 50,000 so that the depositor’s identity was not disclosed.
The ED stated that the “withdrawal of money from the bank accounts of PFI and its related entities has a direct correlation with a violent demonstration against the CAA”. “The transaction dates in the 15 bank accounts of the PFI also match the dates of violence. This draws a clear connection between the violent protests and PFI,” said the agency.
Last year in January (2020), the Yogi Adityanath-led UP Government had asked for a ban on PFI because of the violence caused by PFI members during the anti-CAA riots. The Assam Government also gave a detailed report on how PFI instigated the violence in Guwahati in December 2019. In addition, several leaders of the Popular Front of India were also named as accused in the Bengaluru riots in August 2020.
Money Laundering Case
The Enforcement Directorate, probing the money laundering probe against the Popular Front of India (PFI), alleged the Kerala-based outfit had raised substantial funds to organise terrorist training camps in Kerala. A group of PFI/SDPI activists entered into a criminal conspiracy to impart training to their cadres in the use of explosives and weapons and organised a terror camp at Narath in Kannur district. It was organised to promote enmity between different religions, prepare them for terrorist activities, and thereby commit acts endangering the unity and integrity of the nation.
Foiling Terror Acts
Bangladesh-based terror outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen in 2021 helped the two members of PFI, Ansad Badruddin and Firoz Khan. They were arrested in Lucknow for arranging explosives and firearms to carry out terror activities in UP and other parts of the country, said UP STF and ATS officials.
Sixteen high explosive devices with battery detonators, a pistol and live cartridges were recovered from them. The ATS booked them for illegal possession of explosives, firearms and waging war against the country.
They were planning a series of terror attacks across the country on Basant Panchami. The duo also planned to target leaders of Hindu organisations. During interrogation, they revealed that they intended to brainwash and train physically strong youth of a ‘particular community’. Following the arrest, PFI released a statement condemning their arrest and accused the UP Government of creating a ‘fake narrative’.
RSS swayamsevak S Sanjith was hacked to death in the Palakkad district of Kerala. His autopsy showed multiple 36 wounds. The police said that the assailant was an office-bearer of PFI and was directly involved in the crime. The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) slammed the Kerala Government for failing to take action against the PFI. It blamed the PFI for at least two murders of the activists of the BJP and its ideological mentor RSS over the last two months.
The probe has extended to Tamil Nadu after the police suspected the role of the SDPI—the political offshoot of Islamist outfit PFI. Activists of its political arm SDPI were arrested for an ABVP worker’s brutal murder in Kerala’s Kannur. PFI members were accused of killing 42-year-old activist Ramalingam. The activist was brutally murdered for opposing forced religious conversions. During a rally to mark the Moplah Massacre of Hindus, PFI had paraded men dressed in RSS uniforms in Kerala. A video from the rally confirmed a lot of Islamic chanting were conducted.
PFI has been accused by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) of being involved in the controversial ‘love jihad’ cases in Kerala. The NIA investigations had revealed that Akhila Ashokan, the daughter of Ashokan KM, was a target of PFI activists and the Sathya Sarini Educational and Charitable Trust. She was converted to Islam and became Hadiya. She married her husband, Shafin Jahan. (Markazul Hidaya) Sathya Sarani Educational and Charitable Trust, Manjeri, Kerala, a PFI centre for religious learning imparts religious lessons to converts to Islam. The Sathya Sarani Trust has been suspected of involvement in religious conversions and has even been linked to ISIS.
Even the Catholic bishop, Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, Bishop of Palai in Kerala, claims how certain sections of the Muslim community target Christian women. This outburst is selective. However, the grim reality in Kerala is daunting. It’s just not about ‘Love Jihad’ but also includes ‘Narcotics Jihad’. This issue has become an eyesore.
PFI is not what it claims to be. Its evil actions and intentions have demonstrated that the political patronage of such sham organisations is believed to be detrimental to the nation’s integrity.
The anti-national alliances of PFI quintessentially prove that birds of the same feather flock together. They are the different sides of the same coin. It becomes essential to choke the channels through which it operates so as to put a full stop to such elements. After connecting the dots, undoubtedly, the big picture will become clear.
(With research inputs from Vedika Znwar)