PFI is not alone: The eight affiliated groups that the Centre has banned for ‘terror activities’

The Centre outlawed the Popular Front of India and eight of its affiliates for five years. These groups, including Campus Front of India, National Women’s Front, Empower India Foundation, were being used by the radical outfit to ‘strengthen its capability for unlawful activities’

FP Explainers September 28, 2022 13:46:37 IST
PFI is not alone: The eight affiliated groups that the Centre has banned for ‘terror activities’

There have long been calls to ban the Popular Front of India for their alleged involvement in terror activities. AFP

After several calls to ban the Popular Front of India (PFI) over the years, the axe finally fell on the radical outfit and its affiliate organisations. The Narendra Modi-led government issued a notification banning the organisation, which first started in 2007, for five years with immediate effect.

The action comes after two rounds of nationwide raids and arrests of over 100 PFI leaders and functionaries over terror links.

In its notification, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has stated that the PFI and its associates, affiliates, and fronts have been indulging in unlawful activities, which are prejudicial to India’s integrity, sovereignty, and security, have the potential of disturbing public peace and communal harmony, and supporting militancy in the country.

“The Central Government is of the opinion that it is necessary to exercise its powers under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) as the PFI is involved in several criminal and terror cases and shows sheer disrespect towards the constitutional authority of the country and with funds and ideological support from outside it has become a major threat to the internal security of the country, investigations in various cases have revealed that the PFI and its cadres have been repeatedly engaging in violent and subversive acts.”

Also read: Explained: The ban on PFI and what this means for the Islamic outfit

With this order, the Centre has banned the PFI and eight of its affiliates — the Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab India Foundation.

While we know about the PFI itself, here’s a closer look at the other organisations, their links to PFI and how they aid the radical outfit.

Campus Front of India

The Campus Front of India (CFI) was formed on 7 November 2009 in Delhi at a National Students Convention, three years after the PFI was born. Muhammad Yusuff from Tamil Nadu was the founder president of Campus Front of India.

As per the Facebook page, the CFI is a ‘student organisation built for social change’.

CFI’s website states that it is a neo-social student’s movement, which aims to empower the campuses by developing a new generation of activists.

Today, the CFI is spread across campuses in India and claims to have four-five lakh members. However, its presence is concentrated in Kerala and Karnataka.

The CFI considers the Sangh Parivar or the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s CPM’s Students’ Federation of India (SFI) as its main rivals.

PFI is not alone The eight affiliated groups that the Centre has banned for terror activities

The Campus Front of India is spread across campuses in India and claims to have four-five lakh members. Image Courtesy: @CampusFrontInd/Twitter

The CFI has been active in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and anti-National Register of Citizens (NRC) protests in Delhi and elsewhere in the country.

The CFI garnered national attention when it came to the forefront during the hijab row in Karnataka. In fact, while the Karnataka High Court was hearing the case, senior counsel S S Naganand, representing the Government PU College for Girls, its principal and a teacher had said that the hijab row was started by some students owing allegiance to CFI.

The senior counsel said the organisation was coordinating and organising protests in the state. “It is also a voluntary organisation, which is spearheading and drumbeating in favour of students (demanding wearing of hijab in class-rooms).”

Interestingly, the CFI refuses to have any affiliation to PFI. Muhammed Shan, CFI’s Kerala state vice president, has been quoted by News18 as saying, “CFI is an independent students’ organisation. We don’t have an affiliation with any political party or any organisation. It works on the ideological basis to create students with socialist, moralist and justice to and resist Sangh Parivar ideology.”

All India Imams Council (AIIC)

The AIIC, a PFI initiative, unites imams all over the country with its objective to empower Muslims on various sectors.

Though not too much information is present on this group, it has been reported that the organisation came into being in 2013 at the National Ulema Convention in Chennai.

The group believes that imams play a leading role like a mentor in nurturing and empowering the Muslim community and hence a council would be beneficial for the community.

PFI is not alone The eight affiliated groups that the Centre has banned for terror activities

The All India Imams Council came into being in 2013 at the National Ulema Convention in Chennai. Image Courtesy: @AIICOfficial/Twitter

The members of AIIC have been known for making provocative statements. On 17 September, state general secretary Afzal Qasim said that the community should be “ready to fight and lay down our lives against the Sangh Parivar who is the enemy of Islam and of the country”.

“We have to show courage to say that we will not be silent to the communal propaganda by Sangh Parivar… In these times, we should be ready to fight and lay down our lives against the Sangh Parivar who is the enemy of Islam and of the country,” he said at the event which took place in Kozhikode.

In Tuesday’s raids against the PFI, the Nashik Police Crime Branch arrested the AICC’s state chief Maulana Irfan Daulat Nadvi along with a member of the organisation.

Rehab India Foundation (RIF)

Set up on 17 March 2018, the Rehab India Foundation (RIF)’s aim is the ‘rehabilitation of the marginalised section of rural India’.

As per the information provided in their website they started out by adopting 51 families in a riot-hit village of Assam and building homes for them. They followed this first ‘Rehab Model Village’ by adopting 60 more villages in Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

The RIF’s chairman is E Abubacker, who is also the chairman of the PFI.

As per information, the PFI raises funds through the RIF. In 2022, the Enforcement Directorate had attached 33 bank accounts of PFI and RIF as part of an anti-money laundering investigation against them.

National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO)

The NCRHO was established as an umbrella body of various human rights and civil rights organisations and activists in May 1997 at Calicut in a largely attended national conference on human rights organized by erstwhile National Development Front (NDF), Kerala.

Incidentally, the roots of the PFI can be traced to the National Development Front (NDF), which was set up in Kerala in 1994 – two years after the Babri Masjid demolition incident – to protect the interest of the Muslim community.

Today, the NCHRO has chapters in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Goa, New Delhi and Odisha.

A look at their website today reveals that they have halted its work in the country. They wrote, “This is a reprisal for the organisation’s human rights work. The NCHRO is very proud of the vital human rights work carried out by the confederation.

“We will pursue legal remedies against this injustice,” it added.

PFI is not alone The eight affiliated groups that the Centre has banned for terror activities

A screen grab from the NCHRO website, which states they have halted operations. Image Courtesy: nchro.org

National Women’s Front

The National Women’s Front (NWF) is the women’s wing of the PFI. With its headquarters in Calicut, the NWF seeks to protect the rights of women.

The NWF has protested in the past against the Uniform Civil Code, calling it “anti-national” as it eliminates the diversity of different communities. According to them it is a manifestation of anti-Muslim tendencies of Hindutva groups.

The organisation earned notoriety when it was accused of supporting the religious conversion of Hadiya in 2017.

PFI is not alone The eight affiliated groups that the Centre has banned for terror activities

The National Women’s Front (NWF) is the women’s wing of the PFI and has its headquarters in Calicut. Image Courtesy: @NWF_India/Twitter

Empower India Foundation

Empower India Foundation is a Delhi-based national NGO. As per its Facebook page, it is a voluntary organisation which provides conceptual and motivational support to the weaker sections of society.

The Facebook page now states that the outfit is closed.

Rehab Foundation, Kerala

Rehab Foundation, formed in 1991 by a group of people in Manjeri, works in the field of uplifting the socially and economically weaker sections of the society.

The secretary of this organisation, C Abdul Hameed, was the one-time state president of the PFI.

Junior Front

Connected to the PFI, this organisation has also been banned for five years.

With inputs from agencies

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