Signalling a major escalation against the banned Popular Front of India (PFI) and its affiliates, the State government has ordered District Magistrates, Commissioners of Police and District Police Chiefs to clamp down on illegal associations and unlawful fund collection and notify properties used by the outlawed organisation under Sections 7 and 8 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 under their respective jurisdictions.
The order gives the police an almost-blanket authority to surveil and prosecute suspected PFI activity. The crackdown would extend to PFI’s alleged affiliates.
The organisations under the law enforcement's scanner are Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (NCHRO, National Women's Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation.
The police had earlier flagged alleged attempts by the CFI to radicalise a particular section of students in colleges across the State.
Social media activity
They were also monitoring social media for signs of PFI activity. The Central government has also banned the PFI’s Twitter account.
The Centre’s case against the PFI was that it had used human rights organisations, educational trusts and charities, and personality development centres as a cover for its “extremist activities”, including fund collection.
By delegating powers to the State government to impose the UAPA provisions, the Centre has opened the door for the State administration to seal offices, freeze bank accounts and watch out for PFI’s possible attempts to resurrect itself under other guises.
Funders under scanner
PFI funders in Kerala and abroad, its muster rolls and underground cells formed to allegedly afford PFI leaders deniability in the event of a criminal investigation were also reportedly under the police scanner.
The National Investigation Agency has cited PFI’s alleged links to the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Jamat-Ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), and the Islamic State to justify the ban. It has also accused PFI leaders of using laundered money to fund martial training of its cadres to prepare them for the Islamist cause.