What is the Popular Front of India and why is it being raided
New Delhi, Sep 22: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) carried out a massive operation today in which raids were conducted at the premises of the Popular Front of India (PFI) across the country.
This operation has been described as the largest ever and searches were carried out in 10 states and 106 PFI members have been held.
The searches are part of the crackdown against those involved in terror funding, radicalising people to join terror groups and organising training camps.
"We strongly protest the fascist regime's moves to use agencies to silence dissenting voices." The PFI statement confirmed that "raids are taking place at the homes of its national, state and local leaders. The state committee office is also being raided," the PFI said in a statement.
What is the PFI or Popular Front of India:
PFI as an organisation came into existence in 2006. However, it dates back to 1993 when an organisation called the National Development Front was formed to protect the interests of Muslims in Kerala following the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
The activities of the NDF were restricted to Kerala alone. There was a decision that was later on taken to unify like-minded outfits from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The PFI then was born in 2006 with the merger of NDF, Karnataka Forum for Dignity and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu.
By 2009 more organisations merged with the PFI. They were Goa Citizen's Forum, Rajasthan's Community Social and Educational Society, West Bengal's Nagarik Adhikar Suraksha Samithi, Manipur's Lilong Social Forum and Association of Social Justice, Andhra Pradesh.
The PFI has never contested deletions and has been involved in carrying out social and religious work among the Muslims. The law enforcement authorities have found it hard to crack down on the PFI as it never maintains records of its members.
In the year 2009 a political outfit the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) evolved out of the PFI.
The aim was to take up political issues of Muslims, Dalits and other communities.
The Kerala connect:
The most visible foot-print that the PFI has is in Kerala. The outfit here is accused of intimidating people, murder, rioting and having links with terror groups.
In 2012 the Kerala government headed by Oommen Chandy of the Congress informed the High Court that the PFI was nothing but a resurrection of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) which is banned in India.
The affidavit filed by the government said that PFI's activists were involved in 27 cases of murder, mostly of CPM and RSS cadres and their motives were criminal in nature.
In 2014 the Kerala government told the HC that the PFI had a clandestine agenda of Islamisation of society by promoting conversion, communalisation of issues with a view to the benefit of Islam, recruitment and maintenance of a branded committed indoctrinated Muslim youth for undertaking actions including selective elimination of persons who in their perception are enemies of Islam.
This response came after the PFI's mouthpiece filed a petition challenging the denial of government advertisements since March 2013.
In Karnataka the SDPI has built a base in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi where it has managed to win local polls.
In 2013 it won 21 civic constituencies around Karnataka and 2018 the number went up to 121. IN 2021 it managed to win three local councils in Udupi district.
On the state level the most creditable performance by the SDPI was when it finished second in the Narasimharaja seat which is part of the Mysuru Lok Sabha constituency.
In 2018, the SDP came third in the same seat behind the Congress and BJP winning over 20 per cent of the votes. In the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections it contested the Dakshina Kannada seat and managed to win 1 per cent and 3 per cent votes respectively.