Islamist PFI steps up PR drive as ban threat looms

published on October 17, 2012

 Islamist organization Popular Front of India (PFI), accused of indulging in extremist acts and of having close links with terror outfits like the LeT, has stepped up public relations campaigns to project itself as a law-abiding group amidst strengthening rumours that the Centre is preparing to ban it.

In this context, the main mission of the functionaries of the PFI (formerly National Development Front) at the “Equal Justice” conference it is holding in Kochi on Thursday would be to defend the ideology and activities of the group and to deny the allegations of terror connections leveled against it, said sources in the outfit.

According to the PFI sources, the conference is being held as part of the efforts to “disclose the behind-the-screen secrets of the propaganda being carried out against the outfit which stands by the backward communities including Muslims”. They said such campaigns had become inevitable in the context of relentless efforts to “tarnish” the image of the outfit.

Reports from New Delhi earlier this week had said that the Centre could soon ban the PFI considering its alleged moves that promoted terrorism. They said the Union Home Department was expected to publish the schedule including the Popular Front in the list of banned organizations.

In their reports to the Home Department, the National Investigation Agency and the Central Intelligence Bureau had described the PFI as a front of Pakistan-based terror organizations. The Kerala Government had earlier told the High Court that the PFI was a haven for the operatives of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) after its ban in 2001.

The Kerala Home Department had also reported that the Popular Front had involvement in 27 murders and most of its victims were RSS-BJP and CPI(M) activists. Campus Front of India, PFI’s students’ wing, is accused of murdering two ABVP leaders, Vishal Kumar (19) of Chengannur, Alappuzha and Sachin Gopal (20) of Kannur, recently.

In July last, the State Government had submitted in the High Court that the fundamentalist posture of the Popular Front was a threat to the security and integrity of the nation. However, PFI leaders countered this by saying that it was illogical to suggest that an organization formed in 1993 (as NDF) was reincarnation of SIMI which was banned in 2001.

The Popular Front has been on the radar of the investigating agencies in Kerala – and also in the country – ever since the right hand of college professor TJ Joseph of Muvattupuzha was cut off by its activists as an act of revenge for “blaspheming” Prophet Muhammad through a question in a test paper he set for his students.

The NDF, formed in 1993 as an Islamic resistance outfit, became Popular Front in 2007 after drawing in organizations like the Karnataka Forum for Dignity and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai of Tamil Nadu. The Intelligence reports that the Centre has received have recommended steps to end PFI operations also in States like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

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