Congress to derail investigations against Popular Front terrorists

published on July 17, 2010

Community Disservice
Indian Express Editorial

When T.J. Joseph, a lecturer in Kerala’s Idukki district “paid with his hand” for purportedly insulting the Prophet in an exam paper he set, it drew the national spotlight to the Popular Front of India, an extremist Muslim organisation that specialises in such acts of brutality. The PFI (formerly the National Development Front) was formed in the seething post-Babri cauldron ofthe early ’90s. Though its SIMI antecedents are well known and its clash with the RSS and CPM has torn the region apart, the PFI positions itself as a crusader for the Muslim cause. But despite its venturing into softer outreach activities, its repressive social agenda and its ruthless violence make it a dreaded end of Kerala’s political spectrum.

Both the Congress and the Left in Kerala are guilty of creating this spectre — the CPM has previously used it to dilute support for the Congress-allied Indian Union Muslim League, only to have it turn on them. The Congress is now toeing the PFI line, using it to beat up on the government’s crackdown after the Joseph incident, claiming that the CPM holds the entire local Muslim community responsible for extremism. On the other hand, its own ally, the IUML, has accused the CPM of going soft on the PFI.

Low political point-scoring of this kind has ensured that the PFI swells in power and importance, and it becomes increasingly difficult to separate and deal with the murderous ideology of parts of the PFI without contending with the entire Muslim community. The Congress is especially culpable, having taken this cynical and destructive track time and again. It does Kerala’s Muslims no favours by shielding criminality.

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