THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the Centre banning the Popular Front of India for its alleged terror activities, its political offshoot Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) strongly condemned the ban saying this was part of the “undeclared emergency” clamped by the BJP-led Union government in the country.
The Centre on Wednesday banned the PFI and several of its associates for five years under a stringent anti-terror law, accusing them of having “links” with global terror groups like ISIS.
Besides PFI, the organisations which were also declared banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) include Rehab India Foundation, Campus Front of India, All India Imams Council, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation, National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala.
The SDPI, which did not come under the list of outlawed outfits, said the ban on PFI and allied organisations was a “challenge” against Indian democracy and the rights guaranteed to the people of the country by its Constitution.
In a statement, SDPI national president M K Faizy said the Centre was trying to intimidate those who voice out against the BJP’s “anti-people” policies with raids and arrest, he alleged in a statement.
“The BJP government is suppressing the freedom of expression, people’s protests and outfits by negating even the basic principles of the Indian Constitution,” Faizy charged.
It was time for the secular parties and people to stand united to protect the country’s constitutional values and democracy, he further said.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Congress in Kerala and its UDF coalition partner Indian Union Muslim League welcomed the move to ban PFI.
The state BJP accused both the ruling and opposition fronts of extending support towards the growth of the radical Islamist outfit.
The national party also came up with a serious charge that the Indian National League (INL), a partner in the ruling LDF, had close connection with the now banned outfit Rehab Foundation.
It also wanted INL leader and minister for ports, museum and archaeology, Ahammad Devarkovil, to be removed from the Pinarayi Vijayan government.
However, the Congress and the IUML accused the PFI of trying to create communal division in the society but said the RSS was also indulging in the same and wanted the right-wing outfit should also be similarly outlawed.
Strongly condemning the activities of the PFI, senior IUML leader M K Muneer 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?” the legislator asked.
Stating that IUML has always opposed the deeds of both RSS and PFI-SDPI, Muneer said the respective communities should reject the communal ideologies of such outfits.
Sharing similar views, senior Congress leader and former state home minister Ramesh Chennithala said the Centre’s decision to ban PFI was a “good thing”.
“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,” he said.
Chennithala said Congress is a party which has taken a strong stand against communalism spread by both the majority and minority communities.
Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, V D Satheesan said he does not think that an organisation like PFI could be regulated just through a ban.
“Such outfits should be regulated. There should be no division in the society on communal lines. RSS is also doing the same — dividing the society by spreading hatred among people. Such attempts should not be promoted,” he said on the sidelines of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in northern Kerala.
Alleging that RSS and SDPI were existing by supporting each other, he said the Congress would never back such communal forces and the very message of the Bharat Jodo Yatra is alerting people against the attempts to create divisions in the society.
However, BJP state chief K Surendran said it was shocking to know that minister Devarkovil had connections with the banned outfit.
“The Chief Minister should give an answer. If the state government respects the sovereignty and integrity of the country, the minister should be removed from the cabinet,” he said.
“The ban on PFI was also a setback for those who had supported it politically. The CPI(M) which took a stand that there was no need for the radical outfit to be banned and the Congress which said both the PFI and RSS were similar ones have nothing to say to the people now,” he said.
The recent dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the PFI turned violent, affecting normal life in many parts of Kerala as agitated activists pelted stones at public transport buses, destroyed shops and vehicles and threatened the general public.
The hartal was called by the PFI to protest against the raids in offices and residences of its leaders and their subsequent arrests on September 22 by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other agencies for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country.