NEW DELHI: In a pan-India crackdown on ‘radical’ Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), NIA, Enforcement Directorate and concerned state police arrested more than 100 top leaders and functionaries of outfit in coordinated raids across 11 states and Union territories on Thursday morning. The states and UTs that saw the raids are Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu
, Assam, Uttar Pradesh
, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Puducherry.
Incidentally, NIA had written to the home ministry way back in 2017, seeking a ban on PFI in view of findings of its probe into cases involving allegedly violent and extremist activities of its cadres. “PFI has consistently been indulging in actions detrimental to overall national security,” NIA dossier on PFI had stated while blaming the hardline outfit for seeking to impose religious orthodoxy on Muslims and using sister outfits like Sathya Sarani based in Malappuram to carry out “forceful conversions”.
NIA arrests Delhi PFI chief, over 100 PFI activists detained in anti-terror raids across India
NIA had them claimed that PFI pursues a strategy aimed at communalising Indian polity, enforcing Taliban brand of Islam, heightening existing social divisions and maintaining a trained bank of volunteers for physical actions.
The dossier pointed out that many of PFI’s founding leaders were associated with SIMI before it was banned. This includes former PFI chairman E M Abdurahiman, who was all-India general secretary of SIMI in 1980-81 and 1982-93, PFI national vice-chairman P Koya who was with SIMI in 1978-79 and SDPI president E Aboobacker who was Kerala state president of SIMI in 1982-84, among others.
NIA added that PFI — which has presence in many states and UTs and is strongest in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — has a well oiled-machinery to meet its violent ends. “The outfit has squads of trainers and experts in making crude bombs and IEDs, an intelligence wing…and action squads to run unlawful and violent activities. It has clandestine training centres…where training in martial arts and indoctrination is given,” stated the dossier.
PFI on its part has maintained that it believes in identity politics but does not work on sectarian lines.
“PFI only trains its cadres in fitness and self-defence,” PFI leader P Koya had earlier told TOI.
On SIMI roots of PFI leaders, Koya reminded that the association preceded SIMI ban. On Sathya Sarini, he said it was only imparting Islamic education to the willing who were free to decide on converting to Islam.