New Delhi: In the aftermath of the communal violence taking place in many parts of the country in recent times, security agencies are preparing a detailed report on the “suspicious activities” of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its affiliates, particularly its students’ wing, Campus Front of India (CFI). Accordingly, in the coming weeks, a lot of action will be taken by the law enforcement authorities. Sources have confirmed to The Sunday Guardian that the recent arrest of PFI leader M.K. Ashraf in New Delhi in connection with a money-laundering case by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was done after a detailed investigation which went on for four months, during which the ED worked with other agencies who provided critical inputs.
In the coming days, the government of Karnataka may take a call on banning PFI and many of its affiliates after getting detailed reports from security agencies. The indication about it came from Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. When he was asked about banning PFI, he replied, “You will see it for yourself in the coming days.” He didn’t mention any names.
One senior officer who is privy to the developments but wanted to stay unnamed, said, “The ED raided the offices of several PFI leaders on the inputs provided by other security agencies. When PFI leader from Kerala, Abdul Razack, was arrested in March, we approached Ashraf and questioned him multiple times before arresting him. PFI is not an ordinary organisation, several intelligence and law enforcement agencies have inputs regarding its suspicious activities and past history. Its members have been part of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Agencies of states like Karnataka and Kerala are also probing the links and the funding of PFI; there is a larger organised design.”
On the question of PFI’s recent rise in various states, the officer added, “PFI was active since last many years, but after the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests, it gained momentum particularly in Southern India. As of now it has branches in 22 states. It is taking an aggressive stance on many controversial issues and playing with the emotions of a particular community. On the question of hijab, its student’s wing, Campus Front of India (CFI), organised massive protests on the campuses of Karnataka. After going through the SIMI and Indian Mujahideen (IM) experience in the past, the on-campus activities of CFI are causing concern to Indian intelligence agencies. Any splinter group may emerge in the long run and threaten our national security. Different agencies are submitting detailed findings to the concerned governments. The government could then decide whether the organisation should be banned or not.”
The PFI, which talks about national integration, communal amity, social harmony and upholding the democratic set up, secular order and rule of law in the country as its objectives, has a controversial past as it came out of the National Development Front (NDF) that was set up in Kerala in 1994 and was accused of having links with foreign agencies. In 2006, the NDF merged with the Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD) and Tamil Nadu’s Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP) to form the Popular Front of India, but many of their leaders came from the banned SIMI.
PFI has denied these allegations. In a statement posted on Twitter, it claimed the arrest of M.K. Ashraf, a Kerala State Executive Council Member of Popular Front, was part of the ongoing harassment against the organisation and urged the ED to refrain from acting like puppets by quelling the democratic rights of minorities in the country. Repeated attempts made by The Sunday Guardian to talk to PFI to take their viewpoint were unsuccessful.