Popular Front of India
||This article needs attention from an expert on the subject. (August 2010)|
|Popular Front of India|
|Motto||Naya Karavan : Naya Hindustan|
|Formation||22 November 2006|
|Type||Voluntary and Non-profit Organisation|
|Purpose/focus||A neo social movement for a new India of equal rights to all Indians|
Delhi (Head Quarters) G-66, 2nd Floor, Shaheen BaghKalindikunj, Noida Road, New Delhi – 110025, Tel/ Fax – 011 29945003
|Official languages||Tamil, Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Malayalam, Meitei, Telugu|
|Chairman of the Front||K.M. Shareef|
|Main organ||State Presidents|
The Popular Front of India (PFI) is a confederation of Muslim organizations in India, including National Development Front, Manitha Neethi Pasarai and Karnataka Forum for Dignity etc. The PFI has about 7,80,000 members and sympathizers all over the country. The organisation 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 hard to restore the rights of marginalized and oppressed communities.
In 2012, the Government of Kerala informed the High Court 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". The High Court rejected the Government's stand[which?] but upheld the ban imposed by the state Government. In July 2010, Kerala Police had unearthed country-made bombs, weapons and CDs and documents containing Taliban and Al-Queda propaganda from PFI activists. The raids conducted were termed undemocratic and unconstitutional by the leaders of the Popular front. 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. The SIMI connection and other allegations have been refuted by the PFI, and remain to be proven. The organisation provided counter arguments to the allegations positioned against it in its 2012 nationwide campaign ¨Why the Popular Front?¨
The Front has a continual presence in the field of Human rights. It 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. In 2012 and 2013, the organisation conducted protests against the use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UAPA] to detain innocent citizens as well. Its initiative to bring (back) education at the grassroots levels, the organisation conducts the ¨School Chalo" programme annually, prior of the academic year; the 2013 campaign saw around 116595 school kits being distributed in 15 states costing more than 3.3 crore rupees. The organisation has put active effort in the implementation of the reservation advised as per the Mishra Commission (National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities) report in order remedy the decades of inequality that the minority communities had faced.
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 has been identified as having many fronts and is dealing with issues such as Muslim reservations, personal law courts for Muslims, cause of Dalits & tribals, scholarships for deprived Muslim students, etc.
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. The South India Council has taken up various issues related to community empowerment, especially reservation in education and employment and in cooperation with the Confederation of Muslim Institutions in India and organized a two-day workshop on Muslim Reservations on 26 and 27 November 2005 at Hyderabad, inaugurated by Rajya Sabha member Rahman Khan. The slogan of PFI is Naya Karavan: Naya Hindustan, which means "The new traveling way and the new India". It claims to strive to establish an egalitarian society in which freedom, justice and security are enjoyed by all.
- Education and employment
The PFI conducts School Chalo ("Go To School") program each year during June and July when schools are open, conducting awareness programs to help disadvantaged children attend secondary school. Demonstrations and rallies are conducted by the Popular Front of India to make as many people as possible aware about their rights to an education and employment. Caravans and awareness campaigns in cities such as Kokata are also conducted. 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 parliaments. 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 Calcuta 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. The dignitaries who addressed the convention include Former Prime Minister V. P. Singh and Union Minister Oscar Fernandez. In 2010, the National Executive Council of the PFI demanded a ten percent reservation for Muslims across India.
- Protests against alleged police misconduct
- Health awareness programs
"Health to all by 20th century" – was the slogan of WHO (world health organization) for the 20th century. Many countries had strive and established the above slogan, but India has miles to go in this area. Since 1946, 10 committees were set up to create various plans for health-related issues and the 8th five-year plan was totally dedicated with the slogan "Health to all", but the country is yet to achieve it practically.
- Protest against the judiciary
In 2010, PFI representatives held a demonstration protesting the sentencing in the trial resulting from the Bhopal disaster. The president of the PFI, Mohammed Tahir, claimed the verdict reflects a general insensitivity in the judiciary towards the "common masses."
- Rescue operations
Popular Front volunteers participated in rescue and relief operations in floods that struck north Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Assam where there was large-scale devastation and loss to life and property. During a rescue operation, a 50-year-old volunteer named Salahuddin lost his life in the Kurnool district. Thousands of packets of food were distributed and many public facilities and educational institutes were cleaned by the volunteers. During the Mangalore plane crash 22 May 2010, Popular Front volunteers involved themselves in the rescue operations jointly with police and firemen in hospitals and other rescue sites. They also worked with expatriates to help families of Mangalore air crash victims with help lines and other support.Imtiyaz,District secretary of Popular Front of India, said that Popular Front workers worked in team during rescue operation. Teams worked in Venlock, Yenappoya and Colaco Hospitals. Popular Front members reached to spot at early morning as soon disaster occurred, before firemen come and worked until rescue operation ends, he added.
- Human Rights
The organisation also has put efforts to the improve the human rights situation in India. With the growing number of such violations, the organisation works in tandem with human rights organisations like the National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations. In the September of 2012, the PFI had organised a Human Chain demanding the release of innocent Adivasis, Dalits and Muslims at the Jantar Mantar. It was famed writer and activist, Arundhati Roy, launched a national wide signature campaign following the meeting
Role in seeking Reservation for Minorities
Popular Front of India with the cooperation of Confederation of Muslim Institutions in India organized a two day Workshop on Muslim Reservation on 26 & 27 November 2005 at Hyderabad. Mr. K. Rahman Khan, Hon'ble Deputy Chairperson, Rajya Sabha inaugurated the same. In the context of Central Government decision to introduce reservation in higher education, South India Council has organized three Regional Conventions on Reservation: at Calicut on 4 August 2006, at Bangalore on 5 August 2006, and at 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.
The dignitaries who addressed the convention include Mr. V. P. Singh, Hon'ble Former Prime Minister and Mr. Oscar Fernandez, Hon'ble Union Minister. The following three state level organizations have proved their commitment to the common cause of social justice by actively involving in various programmes of the Council. Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD) (Karnataka State) National Development Front (NDF) (Kerala State) Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP) (Tamil Nadu State) When the tsunami wiped out many of the houses and facilities at the end of 2005, the volunteers were actively involved in helping the sufferers of tsunami victims of Kerala and Tamil Nadu with other organizations and government agencies.
Events & Campaigns
- National Political Conference
The grand 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.
- Freedom Parade on Indian Independence Day
The PFI and its allies conduct a freedom parade on 15 August of every year in celebration of Indian Independence Day with a slogan Be the sentinel of freedom. The national flag is carried in front of the parade by volunteers, and orchestra bands that play patriotic songs are an added attraction to the parade. The parade is followed by public meeting with participation from the public including woman. In 2010, the parade was conducted in Uduppi and Mettuppalayam. In the previous years it was conducted in other South Indian cities like Mangalapuram and Madurai.
In the 2010 parade in Mettupalayam the keynote address was given by O.M.A Salam, the National Secretary of the PFI. In his speech he said, "This Indian Independence Day is the right time to renew our determination to protect the freedom of our beloved country. Once we all Indians united and fought against British colonial forces. Then we achieved the freedom. But now the Independence of India is under threat."
Kerala state government banned the freedom parade conducted by Popular Front of India stating it would jeopardize communal harmony. The ban was challenged in the Kerala High Court which upheld the ban. The Intelligence Wing of Kerala Police had informed the High Court that Popular Front of India 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 while the parade ban was upheld.
- Social Justice conference 2011
The Social Justice Conference that calls to "Build the Nation on Justice" was held at Ramlila Ground in New Delhi on 26 and 27 November 2011. It was organized by Popular Front of India which is a neo-social movement which claims to strives for the empowerment of the weaker sections and marginalized communities with grass root level networking in many states of India. The Conference was a get together of like minded organizations and movements which strive for the common goals.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 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
- School Chalo
School Chalo is the Popular Front's campaign to bring children to schools. The nation-wide campaign is in light to the Right to Education laid down in the Constitution and the role of an educated society for the total empowerment of the Nation. The focus of this campaign is the children of the age groups 6–14 years, irrespective of caste, creed and gender. The 2013 campaign aimed to distribute 100,000 kits throughout the nation with the inauguration from the Red Fort.
- Healthy People, Healthy Nation
Inline with the need of proper health to maintain the health of a Nation, the Front conducts "Healthy People, Healthy Nation" campaign every year.
In November 2010, yoga classes and marathon were held in Bangalore.
- "Bail Is The Rule; Release The Innocent From Jail"
In 2012, the Front conducted a nationwide campaign that called for the release of around 300000 innocent citizens being held in jails across the country, and the wrongful use of black law of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The month-long campaign started on Independence day and concluded at Jantar Mantar on the 15th of September with a 30-minute human chain which include noted activists like Arundhati Roy, Kavitha Krishnan ( of the CPI-ML) and the POTA-acquitted S.A.R Geelani. Roy during her speech noted the targeting of Muslim youth especially after the demolition of the Babri Mosque, with Geelani mentioning the need to stop the targeting of educated youth .
- "UAPA kariniyamathinuethire janvicharna yathra"
In the May of 2013, the organisation conducted a State-wide campaign across the length of Kerala whose name translates to "Public trial of the UAPA". The campaign that started on 8 May from Kasargod highlighted to the general public how the UAPA is being misused, and how it's terrorizing citizens who resisted oppression from ruling elite. The campaign concluded with a mass gathering at the State Capital, Thiruvananthapuram on May 30.
Allegations against the PFI
- Alleged Connections with Students Islamic Movement of India
In 2010, the PFI was alleged of having links with banned Islamic terrorist organisation Student Islamic Movement of India. 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. The alleged SIMI connection has been dubbed baseless by the leaders of the Popular Front stating the fact that the Front was launched in 1993, whereas the SIMI ban came much later in 2001.
- Alleged Terror camp in Kannur
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.
However, the Popular Front leadership and those arrested claimed that it was a Yoga training programme organized as part of a personality development programme by the outfit. The Popular Front further 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 organisations image.
On 18 May 2013, the NIA had arrived to investigate the alleged extremist activities in Narath. The chargesheet submitted at special NIA court in Oct 2013 states that the accused formed small groups and were working for terror activities.
- Alleged Kidnap and Murder of boys for ransom
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 organisation.
In 2006 KFD had merged with New Delhi-based Popular Front of India (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.
Following the arrest of KFD members for the crime Karnataka state government requested the Union government to ban Karnataka Forum for Dignity.
- Alleged Murder of CPI(M) and RSS workers
- Alleged Murder of Vishalkumar allegedly by a PFI activist
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 Capus 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.
- Alleged Murder of ABVP activist N Sachin Gopal allegedly by a PFI activist
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 A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed to investigate the case.
- Alleged SMS hate campaign
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 rumours and threats.
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. 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.
Kerala State Intelligence has been asked to check the accuracy of the report with respect to the PFI. However PFI has denied the accusation.
- Alleged Attack on T. J. Joseph by PFI activists
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. 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.[by whom?]
It is reported that the attack resulted from the ruling from one of the "Taliban-model" courts (Darul Khada) operating in the state. The Kerala state police claimed to be "unearthing the vast network" of the PFI, 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." 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. 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. 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.
- Alleged Harassment of woman by a PFI activist
Rayana R Kazi, a woman from Kerala approached the Kerala High Court seeking police protection after threats through phone calls and anonymous letters accusing her of abadoning Islam and converting to Christianity were made after she started wearing jeans and shirt. The harassers wanted her to be in purdah and wear hijab (headscarf). Rayan's four younger sisters and parents were also insulted.
After she could not get justice from local police and state women’s commission she approached the High Court. She named Muhammed Kavugoli, an activist of the Popular Front of India (PFI) as her tormentor.
Anti-Hindutva Stance, Political Alternative- Allegation and Conspiracies
In the series of events that took place in end of 2012 viz. "Why Popular Front", it was reported that the leaders reasoned as to why numerous allegations were being made and "conspiracies" being hatched, the main reason for this being its strong anti-Hindutva stance, and its potential emergence as a political alternative. Similar views of "conspiracy" against the organisation were aired by certain Popular Front leaders in 2010 and later, during the "Social Resurgence" conference. In 2013, the leaders claimed similar conspiracy in the Narath, Kannur incident where bias was shown in booking the 21 Muslim youth under the black law UAPA. The General Secretary, OMA Salaam, questioned the use of the UAPA, esp. in Kannur district where extremist RSS and CPI(M) members had been rounded up during arms training, and (lightly) booked under normal laws.
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