According to agencies, the group reportedly had a “hidden wing that planned and executed retribution assaults.”
New Delhi: More than 1,400 criminal cases have been registered against the leaders and activists of the now-proscribed Popular Front of India (PFI) and its affiliates across the country over the years.
Several PFI officials and members were purportedly formerly linked with the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). “The antecedent of PFI in Kerala, namely the National Development Fund, was founded by former SIMI officials,” a senior agency officer explained.
The PFI had a well-structured organizational structure at the national, state, and local levels, with the supreme decision-making body being a 13-member national executive council led by its chairman. Each state was represented in its national general assembly. According to reports, the organization allegedly had a “hidden wing” that planned and carried out “revenge assaults.”
According to the agencies, the majority of people accused of hacking to death, Praveen Nettaru, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, on July 26 in Karnataka’s Bellare, were members of the PFI.
“PFI members have been involved in violent crimes over the years.” T.J. Joseph, a professor, had his hand severed in July 2010. The PFI and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) actively participated in the 2020 Bengaluru riots. “The NIA examined two linked cases, and 47 of those charged belonged to PFI/SDPI,” the official stated.
Explosives were seized in the Padam forest area of Kerala in June 2021. It was said to be a PFI training facility. “The UP Special Task Force (STF) detained the national coordinator of PFI’s physical education branch with explosives and detonators on February 16, 2021.” The Kerala Police confiscated rifles and explosives from a camp near Narath in April 2013. “The NIA then took over the Narath case, and 21 suspects were convicted in 2016,” he claimed.
PFI activists allegedly participated in anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests from December 2019 to March 2020. In Uttar Pradesh, 51 cases were filed to investigate violent protests against the Act. “Among the notable common platforms that coordinated the agitations was the PFI-led Samvidhan Suraksha Andolan.” The ED also investigated the PFI’s role in the Delhi riots,” the official said, adding that the Hijab problem in Karnataka had been exaggerated by its students’ branch, Campus Front of India.
Following searches in 2020-21, the ED said that the organization had established a well-organized structure in Gulf countries for gathering cash, which was then transferred to India via “hawala” routes and disguised as payments for business operations. The organization has established district executive committees in nations such as the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
“The PFI’s abroad fronts for engaging with expatriate Muslims were the India Fraternity Forum (IFF) and the Indian Social Forum (ISF).” Their executive committees were in charge of transferring funds to the PFI in India while leaving no trace,” alleged another official.
The Jharkhand government banned the organization in 2019 due to its claimed engagement in disruptive actions.
The organization, which is said to have a presence in 17 states, was founded on December 9, 2006. “Three organizations — National Development Front (NDF), Kerala; Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD); and Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP), Tamil Nadu — renamed the ‘South India Council’ (a Bengaluru-based institution founded by NDF in 2004) the ‘Popular Front of India,” an official added.