Devendra Fadnavis calls PFI a ‘silent killer’, says will work towards shutting down outfit in Maharashtra

Maharashtra Home Minister claims PFI responsible for triggering Amravati riots of November last year

September 28, 2022 03:56 pm | Updated 03:57 pm IST - Pune

Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Devendra Fadnavis. File

Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Devendra Fadnavis. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Dubbing the Popular Front of India (PFI) “a silent killer”, Maharashtra Home Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, while lauding the Centre’s ban on the outfit, said on Wednesday that the State Government would take steps to completely shut down the PFI and six affiliate organisations in Maharashtra in the coming months.

“There were inputs regarding the PFI’s activities that were continuously being received by Central and State agencies. They [the PFI] was silently trying to engineer divisiveness in society and attempting to destroy the country’s social fabric PFI was trying to sow the seeds of violence by creating false narratives. We will be conducting investigations in such a way that the outfits and their affiliates completely cease any activity in Maharashtra in the future,” said Mr. Fadnavis speaking in Mumbai.

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Stating that all State Governments would soon be receiving formal notifications regarding the Centre’s five-year ban on the PFI and its affiliates, the BJP leader mooted the possibility of there being more affiliates of the PFI beside the six frontal organisations.

“There could be more outfits linked to the PFI which would now be unravelled as investigations progress into their activities,” Mr. Fadnavis said.

Alleging that the PFI used to mask their terror activities behind “a humanitarian face”, Mr. Fadnavis alleged that the outfit began carrying out anti-national activities in a surreptitious manner once they knew that big terror acts were not possible owing to the diligence of the armed forces and the intelligence services.

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Mr. Fadnavis said that to this end, the PFI had prepared “financial models” wherein numerous accounts were opened and small sums of money would be deposited in them in such a manner as to escape notice.

“They have opened numerous such accounts and the PFI’s design will be clear only after probing them. They had been trying to create unrest while indoctrinating and pollute minds. In Maharashtra, they created fake visuals about incidents [desecration of mosques] that never happened in Tripura and were responsible for triggering riots in Amravati district,” Mr. Fadnavis said.

He asserted that outfits like the PFI had come into existence after the ban on fundamentalist organisations like the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

Commenting on the arrests and detentions of members associated with the PFI, Mr. Fadnavis clarified that they would be prosecuted as per the degree of their involvement with the PFI.

Meanwhile, terming the Centre’s decision to ban the PFI and its front organisations a “proper” one, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said that such treasonous outfits posed a threat for the country.

Speaking in Nashik, Mr. Shinde said that those giving pro-Pakistan slogans have no right to stay in this country.

“I had earlier said that treasonous outfits like PFI are dangerous for the country. The Centre’s decision to ban it is a proper one. No one ought to be permitted to spread seditious ideas in the State and the country. The State Government also has taken a decision to initiate a stern probe against those who had raised ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans,” said the Chief Minister, alluding to a PFI demonstration in Pune last week where pro-Pakistan slogans had allegedly been raised.

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A statement from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said that Mr. Shinde had welcomed the Centre’s decision to ban the PFI which sought “to disrupt the country’s integrity, sovereignty and law and order”.

“Investigations conducted by the investigating agencies have found that PFI and its affiliated organisations are involved in serious crimes. The organisation was active in financing terrorist activities and was involved in gruesome killings while showing contempt for the country’s constitutional system and disrupting public order. It has come to light that this organisation had a conspiracy to cause casualties in Maharashtra as well,” said the statement.

Mr. Shinde said that attempts had been made by the PFI to vitiate Pune’s atmosphere during their protests, but that the police had foiled them on time.

On Tuesday, a second crackdown by the Maharashtra police saw 47 alleged members of the PFI and its affiliate, the Social Democratic Party of Indian (SDPI), being taken into police custody. 14 of them were picked up from Aurangabad district and six from Pune.

Last week, in tandem with the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) nationwide crackdown on the PFI, the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had arrested 20 PFI members in the State.

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Following this, a protest by some PFI members and supporters outside the District Collector’s office had taken place in Pune on September 23.

Later, some clips surfaced on social media with allegations that the protestors had raised ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans — a claim strongly disputed by Muslim outfits as well as fact-checking portals which claimed that the clips were ‘doctored’.

According to Muslim outfits, the demonstrators had raised slogans hailing the PFI and against the ruling BJP and that even the Pune police authorities had not said anything about ‘pro-Pakistan’ slogans being raised at the demonstration on Friday last week.

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