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Last Updated : Jan 02, 2020 07:17 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

What is Popular Front of India (PFI) and why does Uttar Pradesh govt want it banned?

UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya said PFI was an “incarnation” of SIMI, an outfit banned by the Home Ministry for terrorist activities

Representative Image
Representative Image

The Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has sent a report to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) seeking a ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI). The UP government has accused the outfit of “masterminding and instigating violence” during the recent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).

On January 1, the UP Police had arrested about 25 members of PFI from different districts of the state, alleging their role in the violent anti-CAA protests in Lucknow.

UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said PFI was an “incarnation” of SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), an outfit which has been banned by the Home Ministry for terrorist activities under UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967).

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What is PFI and why the UP government wants it banned, here is all you need to know:

What is PFI?

PFI was established in 2006 as a federation of Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD), National Development Front (NDF), Kerala and Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP), Tamil Nadu.

It describes itself as a ‘socio-economic movement’ which aims to empower Muslims as well as the deprived and the downtrodden in nation at large.

Members of the organisation have been reportedly involved in at least 27 murder cases, mostly of CPM and RSS cadres in Kerala. The organisation has also been accused of carrying out forced religious conversions in Malappuram and other districts of Kerala.

Police in Karnataka and Kerala have even found evidence of use of lethal weapons in PFI centres.

The outfit also has a political arm called the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI).

What is SDPI?

SDPI, PFI’s political front, was established in 2009, and was registered with the Election Commission of India in 2010. It describes itself as a party “founded for the advancement and uniform development of all the citizenry including Muslims, Dalits, Backward Classes and Adivasis”.

“The party is here to fight the neo-colonial and neo-liberal incursions in our country,” it says on their website.

Why does UP govt want PFI banned?

The UP police wants the organisation to be proscribed for its alleged role in inciting violence during the anti-CAA protests in the state.

In their report, the UP Police have claimed that PFI members, including UP unit president Waseem Ahmed, have been arrested for instigating violence. The report also charts out the activities of the outfit in the last decade in UP.

“Since 2010, we have registered 13 cases against PFI members in the state. Of them, six cases were lodged in connection with the recent protest and the violence,” a senior officer told The Indian Express.

To this, Deputy CM Maurya said, “The PFI’s role has been established in vandalism in the state… The truth is emerging through the probe. If SIMI reappears in any form, it will be crushed.”

What is PFI’s response?

Saying they will fight this “political vendetta” through legal and democratic means, PFI retorted, “The move against Popular Front is yet another authoritarian step by Yogi Police against democratic activism in the state.”

“It was only the BJP ruled states that tried to suppress the protests by calling it violent. In most of the states the police were respectful of people's democratic rights to dissent. Only in Yogi Adityanath ruled Uttar Pradesh, police brazenly turned protests into bloodbath and destruction,” their statement added.

Banned in Jharkhand?

In February 2019, the Jharkhand government had banned PFI in the state to curb its “anti-national activities” and for “keeping links with terror outfits like ISIS”. It was banned under Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1908.
First Published on Jan 2, 2020 07:17 pm
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