NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday has banned the Popular Front of India (PFI), which has allegedly been involved in a series of violence and has “links” with terrorist groups like ISIS, for five years following the second round of crackdown against its leaders.
The associated organisations which were also declared banned under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA include Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CF), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala.
With this, the number of terrorist organisations listed in the First Schedule to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) in the country has up to 43 and the number of organisations declared as Unlawful Associations under the UAPA is 13. So far, 31 individuals have been listed as terrorists under Schedule Four of the Act. Law Enforcement Agencies of the Centre and the States keep continuous watch on the activities of all such organisations/individuals and take action against them as per the law.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 has added the provision of designation of individuals as terrorists, thereby reducing the chances of regrouping of the leaders/members of the banned organisations under other names.
Hundreds of people allegedly linked with PFI were detained or arrested in raids across pan-India crackdown against the terrorist group.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday welcomed the Union government’s decision to ban the PFI, saying that the move sends a message to all “anti-national groups” that they will not survive in this country.
“This was a long time demand by the people of this country, by all political parties including the opposition CPI, CPI(M) and the Congress. PFI is the avatar (incarnation) of SIMI (banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India), and KFD (Karnataka Forum for Dignity). They were involved in anti-national activities and violence,” Bommai said.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also welcomed the Centre’s decision and said the country under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “bold and decisive”.
The union home ministry, in a notification on Tuesday night, banned the PFI and several of its associate organisations.
“The government is firm in its resolve to ensure that anyone with a diabolical, divisive, or disruptive design against India shall be dealt with iron fist,” the chief minister wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress in Kerala and its coalition partner Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) also welcomed the decision, but also demanded that the RSS should also be similarly outlawed.
Senior IUML leader M K Muneer condemned the activities of PFI and said the radical outfit had misinterpreted the Quran and persuaded the community members to adopt the path of violence.
The PFI not only tried to mislead the young generation but also tried to create division and hatred in the society, he said in Kozhikode.
“All Islamic scholars in the state have strongly condemned the extremist ideologies. But, outfits like PFI have made even tiny children raise contemptuous slogans. Which Islam has persuaded them to do so?” he asked.
Senior Congress leader and former state home minister Ramesh Chennithala said “RSS should also be banned like this. In Kerala, both majority communalism and minority communalism should be equally opposed. Both the outfits have flared up communal hatred and thus tried to create division in the society,”.
In a notification issued late Tuesday night, the Union Home Ministry banned the PFI. It said that the central government is of the opinion that the Islamist outfit and its affiliates have been involved in subversive activities, thereby disturbing public order and undermining constitutional set up of the country and encouraging and enforcing a terror-based regressive regime.
It continues “propagating anti-national sentiments and radicalising a particular section of society” with the intention to create disaffection against the country, it said.
The Central Government had amended the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 in August 2019, to include the provision of designating an individual as a terrorist. Prior to this amendment, only organizations could be designated as terrorist organizations. The Act provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.
The Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the debate in Parliament last year on the amendment to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, had strongly expressed the Modi Government’s commitment to firmly fight the menace of terrorism and had unequivocally reaffirmed the nation’s resolve on this matter.
By invoking the said amended provision, in September 2019, the Central Government designated four individuals as terrorists, viz. Maulana Masood Azhar, Hafeez Saeed, Zaki-ur-RehmanLakhvi and Dawood Ibrahim.
Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares and promotes terrorism, is otherwise involved in terrorism. The Bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
The Bill also additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.