Popular Front of India

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Popular Front of India
Pfi flag1.jpg
Abbreviation PFI
Motto Naya Karavan : Naya Hindustan
Formation 22 November 2006
Type Voluntary Based Nonprofit organization
Purpose To establish an egalitarian society in which freedom, justice and security are enjoyed by all.
Headquarters

G-66, 2nd Floor, Shaheen Bagh

Kalindikunj, Noida Road, New Delhi – 110025, Tel/ Fax – 011 29949902
Region served India
Chairman of the Front K.M. Shareef
Website http://popularfrontindia.com

The Popular Front of India (PFI) started largely as a Kerala Muslim outfit as a successor to National Development Front (NDF)in 2006 and then acquired multi-state dimension by merging with National Development Front, Manitha Neethi Pasarai, Karnataka Forum for Dignity etc. The PFI has about 80,000 members and sympathizers all over the country.[1] The organization states it purpose as Front with an aim of all round empowerment of the deprived communities, especially Muslims who are backward in educational, economic, social and political fields, and striving to restore the rights of marginalized and oppressed communities.[2][3]

PFI works in cooperation with the National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations and other Human rights activists in bid to curb human rights violation in the nation.[4][5] The organisation has undertaken the task of campaigning for the Muslim Reservation in line with the Mishra Commission (National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities) report to address the inequality faced by Muslims.[6][7] In 2012, the organisation conducted protests against the use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UAPA] to detain innocent citizens.[8][9]

In 2012, the Government of Kerala informed the High Court their stand that the activities of Popular Front are inimical to the safety of the country and is "nothing but a resurrection of the banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in another form", in its argument to ban the organization's Indian Independence day's commemoration program, the "Freedom Parade".[10][11][12] The High Court dismissed the Government's stand, however, upheld the ban imposed by the state Government.[11][12][13] In July 2010, Kerala Police had unearthed country-made bombs, weapons and CDs and documents containing Taliban and Al-Queda propaganda from PFI activists.[14][15][16] The raids conducted were termed undemocratic and unconstitutional by the leaders of PFI.[17] As of 6 September 2010, as informed to the state high court by the Kerala government, no evidence has been found by the Police in its probe into the allegation of links to Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e Taiba (Let) or al-Qaeda.[18] The organisation provided counter arguments to the allegations positioned against it in its 2012 nationwide campaign "Why Popular Front".[2][3]

The organisation is also known for its anti-Imperialist & anti-Zionist stance, as seen in the pro-Palestine protests in various parts of country in November 2012, and later in the July of 2014.[19][20][21][22]

History[edit]

The PFI started in Kerala as successor to National Development Front in 2006. Later it merged with Karnataka Forum for Dignity of Karnataka and Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu and later in 2009, with Goa's Citizen's Forum, Rajasthan's Community Social and Educational Society, West Bengal's Nagarik Adhikar Suraksha Samiti, Manipur's Lilong Social Forum and Andhra Pradesh’s Association of Social Justice. It is involved in issues such as Muslim reservations, personal law courts for Muslims, the cause of Dalits, Muslims and tribals, and scholarships to deprived Muslim students.[1][23][24]

A common platform was formed in cooperation with the South India Council as an outcome of a regional discussion attended by Muslim social activists and intellectuals from the South Indian States at Bangalore on 25 and 26 January 2004. It has taken up the issue of reservation in government and private sector jobs and Parliament and Assemblies[25] and in cooperation with the Confederation of Muslim Institutions in India, it organized a two-day workshop on Muslim Reservations on 26 and 27 November 2005 at Hyderabad, inaugurated by Rajya Sabha member Rahman Khan.[26][27][28] The slogan of PFI is Naya Karavan: Naya Hindustan, which means "The new traveling way and the new India".[29]

Social activities[edit]

Education and employment[edit]

The PFI conducts School Chalo ("Go To School") program each year during June and July when schools are open, conducting awareness programs for children to go to school up to secondary level.[30] KM Shareef, the National General Secretary of PFI has asserted that reservation is the most immediate need of Muslims, referencing a report submitted by the Prime Minister’s High Level Committee (Justice Rajindar Sachchar Committee) in November 2006, which identified the Muslim community as more backward than any other, and claimed that insufficient discussion on this topic were taking place in assemblies and parliament.[31] In the context of the Central Government's decision on reservation in higher education, the South India Council organized three Regional Conventions on Reservation: in Calcutta on 4 August 2006, in Bangalore on 5 August 2006, and in Chennai on 17 August 2006. A National Convention on Reservation in Higher Education was organized by the South India Council jointly with All India Milli Council at New Delhi on 29 August 2006. Former Prime Minister V. P. Singh also addressed the convention[32][33] In 2010, the National Executive Council of the PFI demanded a ten percent reservation for Muslims across India.[30]

Public health campaign in 2009[edit]

Popular Front of India had planned to organize a national public health campaign in 2009.[34][35] PFI conducted "Healthy People, Healthy Nation" campaign in November 2010, yoga classes and marathon were held in Bangalore.[36]

Flood relief operation in 2009[edit]

In 2009 floods PFI volunteers participated in rescue and relief operations in Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh), Bijapur, Raichur and Bagalkot (Karnataka). During rescue operation, a 50-year-old volunteer named Salahuddin lost his life in Kurnool district.[37] The cadres cleaned 52 Masjids, 4 Madrasas, 2 Shadi Mahals, 14 houses and also streets of 4 mohallas were cleaned.[38][unreliable source?]

Human chain formation for the release of innocents[edit]

In September 2012, PFI had organised a Human Chain demanding the release of innocent Adivasis, Dalits and Muslims at Jantar Mantar. Arundhati Roy launched a national wide signature campaign after the meeting.[5]

Events & Campaigns[edit]

National Political Conference[edit]

The public meeting at Calicut Beach on 17 February 29 which marked the conclusion of National Political Conference saw the merger of social organizations in eight states into the Popular Front of India. Along with the state presidents of NDF Kerala, MNP Tamil Nadu and KFD Karnataka which had already merged with Popular Front, heads of social organizations in Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Manipur joined hands on the dais with the Popular Front chairman.[39][40]

Freedom Parade on Indian Independence Day[edit]

Popular front of India Freedom Parade 2010

The PFI and its allies conducted a freedom parade on 15 August in 2009 and 2010 in celebration of Indian Independence Day.[41] The national flag was carried in front of the parade, and orchestra bands played patriotic songs. The parade was followed by public meeting with participation from the public. In 2010, the parade was conducted in Udupi and Mettuppalayam.[42] In the previous year it was conducted in Mangalore and Madurai.[43]

Kerala state government banned the Freedom Parade stating it would jeopardize communal harmony. The ban was challenged in the Kerala High Court which upheld the ban.[44] The Intelligence wing of Kerala Police had informed the High Court that PFI is the new face of banned Islamist group Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and is engaged in fundamentalist and anti-national activities. This stand of the government was rejected by the High Court.[not in citation given][45][46]

Social Justice conference 2011[edit]

The Social Justice Conference was held at Ramlila Ground in New Delhi on 26 and 27 November 2011.[47] The Conference was a get together of like minded organizations and movements. The first day of the conference had two separate seminar session on the topics ‘Together for Empowerment’ and ‘People’s Right to Justice’. The second day witnessed a large flow of masses to the Grand Public Meeting.[48][49] The conference was addressed by Syed Shahabuddin, a former MP and Mulayam Singh Yadav the Samajwadi party leader, a former MP and Thol. Thirumavalavan the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader. The key address of the conference was to plea the UPA government to implement the findings of Sachar Committee Report and the Ranganath Misra Commission[50]

Protest against UAPA[edit]

21 activists of PFI where charged with UAPA for involvement in anti-national activities.[51] Following which in May 2013, the organisation conducted a state-wide campaign in Kerala, it started on 8 May from Kasargod highlighted to the general public how the UAPA is being misused, and how it is terrorizing citizens who resisted oppression from ruling elite. The campaign concluded with a mass gathering at the State Capital, Thiruvananthapuram on 30 May.[52][53]

Charges of violence and armed activity[edit]

Alleged Connection with Students Islamic Movement of India[edit]

In 2010, the PFI was alleged of having links with banned Islamic terrorist organisation Student Islamic Movement of India.[14] PFI's national chairman Abdul Rehman was the former national secretary of SIMI, while the state secretary Abdul Hameed Master was SIMI's former state secretary. Most former leaders of SIMI were either identified with PFI or were at present holding various portfolios in the organization.[54] The alleged SIMI connection has been dubbed baseless by the leaders of the Popular Front claiming that the Front was launched in 1993, whereas the SIMI ban came much later in 2001.[55][56] Retired Indian army officer P C Katoch has claimed that PFI has links with ISI.[57][58]

Accusation of arms training camp in Narath[edit]

In April 2013, Kerala Police have raided a training camp held at Narath, Kannur and arrested 21 activists of the Popular Front of India. Two country-made bombs, a sword, raw materials for making bombs, pamphlets in the name of PFI were seized by the police. The raid was held at the office building of Thanal Charitable Trust. A document with names of several leading personalities and vehicles had also been seized, which police suspect is a hit-list.[59][60][61] The Popular Front leadership and those arrested claimed that it was a Yoga training program organized as part of a personality development program.[59] and asked for a judicial probe by a sitting judge to inquire into the alleged training camp. The State President claimed that this police case was fabricated, and was cooked up in a bid to tarnish the organisation's image.[62][63] On 18 May 2013, the NIA had arrived to investigate the alleged extremist activities in Narath.[64] The chargesheet submitted at special NIA court in Oct 2013 states that the accused formed small groups and were working for terror activities.[65]

Alleged Kidnap and Murder of boys for ransom[edit]

Two boys Sudheendra and Vignesh were kidnapped on 8 June 2011 from Mahajan College premises in Mysore and murdered by members of Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD), who sought ransom of 5 crore rupees to raise funds for their organization.[66][67][68][69] In 2006 KFD had merged with PFI. The arrested KFD members are Adil alias Adil Pasha, Athavulla Khan, Ameen alias Syed Ameen, Rehman alias Shabbir Rehaman, Kouser alias Mohammed Kouser and Safeer Ahmed alias Safeer.[66] Following the arrest of KFD members for the crime Karnataka state government requested the Union government to ban Karnataka Forum for Dignity.[70]

Allegations of murder of CPI(M) and RSS workers[edit]

In 2012, The Kerala government informed the Kerala High Court in an affidavit, that Popular Front of India had active involvement in 27 murder cases, mostly of cadres of CPI-M and RSS.[71][72] In 2014, it has again submitted before the Kerala High Court that activists of the NDF/PFI were involved in 27 communally motivated murder cases, 86 attempt to murder cases and in 106 communal cases registered in the state. The affidavit was filed in response to a petition filed by Thejas, mouthpiece of PFI in the State, challenging the refusal of the government to give government advertisements to the daily.[73][74]

Allegation of Murder of ABVP activist N Sachin Gopal by a PFI activist[edit]

On 6 July 2012, N Sachin Gopal, a student of Modern ITC and Kannur Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad district leader, was allegedly stabbed from back by members of Campus Front and Popular Front of India. He later died of his injuries at KMC Hospital in Mangalore on 6 September 2012[75] A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed to investigate the case.[76]

Murder of Vishalkumar allegedly by a PFI activist[edit]

On 20 July 2012, Vishalkumar, a student of NSS College, Konni, an active worker of ABVP was attacked inside the campus of Christian College and stabbed from behind to death. Three ABVP activists were attacked by an armed group of 15 Campus front activists. Police arrested two Campus Front of India activists in connection with the murder. Another student Sreejith was also injured. The arrested are Nazim and Shafeeq. Police said that they are searching for nineteen more persons in connection with the murder.[77]

Allegation of SMS hate campaign[edit]

After the Assam riots in 2012, a SMS hate campaign was launched threatening people from North-East India that they will be attacked, particularly after Ramzan. This led to a mass exodus of 30,000 people from cities of Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad and national capital Delhi. Union Home Ministry banned bulk SMS, MMS for 15 days to quell rumors and threats.[78][79] Investigators traced the source of hate messages to Pakistan. In India, Islamist groups Popular Front Of India, HuJI, Manita Neeti Pasarai and Karnataka Forum for Dignity circulated the messages to mask the true origin of the messages and make it seem as they were originating from within India.[80] The SMS campaign was designed to create panic among people from north east forcing them to flee and to damage the social fabric and economy.[81] PFI has denied the accusation.[82]

Alleged Attack on T. J. Joseph by PFI activists[edit]

In Jan 2011, Kerala Police has filed a charge sheet against 27 PFI activists in conjunction with an incident in which they allegedly chopped the hand off of a Kerala professor who had allegedly offended the religious sentiments of his students.[83] After the attack, the College management had removed him from service in Jan 2011.[84] At the time of the attack, Joseph was coming back from his duties at a private Christian college in Muvattapuzha and had been accused of blasphemy.[85][86]

It is reported that the attack resulted from the ruling from one of the "Taliban-model" courts (Darul Khada) operating in the state.[87] The Kerala state police claimed to be "unearthing the vast network" of the PFI,[88] and after a series of raids on the houses of PFI members, the district secretary of the PFI "threatened the officer with dire consequences if he continued raiding the houses of its activists."[89] On 9 July 2010, it was reported that PFI installations were being raided by police, and that they had found propaganda videos from the global Islamic network al-Qaeda in the possession of one alleged PFI member, and a rifle, fake SIM cards, and fake identity cards in the possession of another member of the PFI.[1][85][90] As a result of the incident, the BJP has called for a ban on the PFI and an examinations of possible links between the PFI and the Taliban by the National Investigation Agency.[91] On 6 September 2010, the Kerala Government informed the state high court that investigators thus far found no evidence of a connection between the Popular Front of India with Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e Taiba (Let) or al-Qaeda.[92][93]

Counter Charges, False Accusation[edit]

In 2012, the Popular Front had launched a nation-wide campaign "Why the Popular Front", detailing the false accusations and attempts by mainstream media and other organizations to tarnish its image.[94] The organisation maintains that it strives hard to restore the rights of the depressed and marginalised sections of the Indian society. The organisation's former Chairman, E M Abdul Rahman, gave elaborate explanations for the accusations earlier in the year.[95]

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External links[edit]