PFI ban: Ministry of Home Affairs cites murders of four Hindutva activists in Karnataka to make a case

State government and BJP welcome the ban; SDPI distances itself from PFI

Updated - September 28, 2022 05:35 pm IST

Published - September 28, 2022 10:43 am IST - Bengaluru:

Police posted outside the Popular Front of India (PFI) office at S.K. Garden, Benson Town, Bengaluru after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) banned the organisation, on September 28, 2022.

Police posted outside the Popular Front of India (PFI) office at S.K. Garden, Benson Town, Bengaluru after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) banned the organisation, on September 28, 2022. | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification that has declared Popular Front of India (PFI) and its nine affiliate organisations “unlawful association” under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, mentions four murder cases of Hindutva activists in which members of PFI and its affiliate organisations are accused, to make a case for their ban.

The notification cites murder cases of Hindutva activists R. Rudresh (2016), Praveen Pujari (2016), Sharath Madiwala (2017) and Praveen Nettaru (2022), apart from six other murder cases from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. 

MHA has also banned Campus Front of India (CFI), a student organisation associated with the PFI. The state government had recently accused CFI of instigating the hijab row in Udupi. CFI had come out openly in support of the six girls who had insisted they be allowed to wear hijab inside classrooms. 

Also read | The Popular Front of India, its origins, presence, and controversies

The ban comes in the wake of nationwide raids on PFI and its affiliates by the National Investigation Agency and various state police forces including Karnataka. The Karnataka state police had conducted raids in eight districts on Tuesday and taken nearly 90 members and office bearers of PFI into preventive custody, hours before the organisation was proscribed by MHA late on Tuesday night. Almost the entire top leadership of PFI in Karnataka is in custody, police sources said. Security has been beefed up at all key PFI offices in the state, police said. 

Government, BJP welcome ban

The State government has welcomed the ban imposed on PFI and its affiliates. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the demand to ban PFI and its affiliates was long pending and congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the move to ban them.

He described PFI “as mutants of proscribed organisations Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD)”. He alleged the now banned organisations had “no respect for the law and Constitution” and that they had carried out several violent acts based on orders from outside India. 

Home Minister Araga Jnanendra, who last week during NIA raids was the first to say this was “a step towards banning the organisation”, welcomed the ban and said this was much needed for national security. 

C. T. Ravi, National General Secretary, BJP, also welcomed the move and appealed to all political parties not to play “appeasement politics” in matters of national security and to rise above narrow political considerations. 

SDPI distances itself

Meanwhile, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), also closely associated with PFI, has sought to distance itself from the proscribed organisations on Wednesday. Ataullah Jokatte, State Committee Member, SDPI, said their political party was in no way formally associated with PFI or any of the proscribed organisations. “It is true that some of our members have also been members of PFI. But we are not linked at the organisational level in any way,” he said.

The origin of PFI

PFI was formed in 2006 with the merger of Karnataka Forum for Dignity, National Development Front in Kerala and Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu. Security agencies contend that all the three organisations were offshoots of SIMI after it was banned in 2001. 

Explainer by Ramesh Chandran
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