The maximum number of arrests were made in Kerala (22) followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka (20 each), Tamil Nadu (10), Assam (9), Uttar Pradesh (8), Andhra Pradesh (5), Madhya Pradesh (4), Puducherry and Delhi (3 each) and Rajasthan (2).
According to the officials, the arrests were made during the raids which have been termed as the “largest-ever investigation process till date”.
In a statement, the PFI said “the raids are taking place at the homes of national, state and local leaders of PFI. The state committee office is also being raided”.
Here is all you want to know about PFI
Founded on November 22, 2006, the PFI was created through the merger of three Muslim organisations in southern India, the National Democratic Front in Kerala, the Karnataka Forum for Dignity, and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu.
Previously headquartered in Kozhikode, the organization later shifted its base to Delhi. Its present chairman is OMA Abdul Salam.
On its website, it describes itself as an Indian social movement that is working for the total empowerment of the marginalized sections in the country. However, it is often accused by law enforcement agencies of promoting radical Islam.
The PFI has had the most visible presence in Kerala, where it has been repeatedly accused of murder, communal rioting, intimidation, radicalization of Muslim youth and having links with terrorist organisations.
Back in 2012, the government of Kerala headed by Oommen Chandy of the Congress, had informed the High Court that PFI was “nothing but a resurrection of the banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in another form”.
According to another affidavit submitted by the state government to the Kerala High Court in 2014, PFI activists were responsible for 27 political murders, 86 attempt to murder cases and more than 125 cases for whipping up communal passions.
The outfit also came under the scrutiny of various agencies in connection with the alleged “Love Jihad” incidents in Kerala, forced conversion of people belonging to other faiths and disapperance of some people from the state to join the Islamic State in Afghanistan and Syria.
The activists of PFI and its allied organisations were also arrested for killings of RSS-BJP leaders in Kerala in the recent months.
The fund raising activities of the PFI are also being investigated by the central agencies like the ED and Income Tax Department.
Although the PFI was formed with an objective to work for the socio-economic advancement of Muslims in the country, the outfit soon came under the radar of various state and central agencies for all the wrong reasons, particularly after the 2010 incident of chopping off the hand of a college professor in Kerala for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through a question paper he had set.
It is also alleged that when terror organisation the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI, affiliate of the Indian Mujahideen) was banned in India, its members joined PFI. In Kerala, most of its erstwhile leaders were members of the SIMI.
SIMI was formed in 1977 at Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, initially as a student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
The state version also shows that “PFI has a clandestine agenda of islamisation of society by promoting conversion, communalisation of issues with a view to the benefit of Islam, recruitment and maintenance of a branded committed indoctrinated muslim youth for undertaking actions including selective elimination of persons, who in their perception are enemies of Islam.”
PFI’s growth, how it spread its tentacles
In 2009, a political outfit named Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) evolved out of the PFI, with the aim of taking up the political issues of Muslims. However, SDPI is often accused of perpetrating crimes against Hindus and is responsible for communal riots across the country.
In Kerala, the PFI also has a women wing, the National Women’s Front, student wing Campus Front of India (CFI), an NGO called Rehab India Foundation and a think tank called Empower India Foundation. Several analysts have traced the roots of the PFI to the NDF, a radical Islamic outfit which was formed in 1993, in response to the demolition of the Babri Masjid a year ago.
In July this year, the Bihar police made shocking revelations today about an 8-page PFI document that talks about teaching a lesson to the majority community of India. The 8-page PFI document underlines the PFI goal for the years ahead.
“If 10 per cent of the total Muslim population rally behind it, the organisation would subjugate the majority community to their knees and bring back the glory of Islam in India. To achieve this goal, this roadmap has been prepared to be kept in mind by all the PFI leaders and accordingly guide the PFI cadres, and Muslim community, in general towards this goal,” an extract from the document in possession with TOI reads.
Earlier, a report revealed how CFI and banned radical terror outfit Jamaat-e-Islami Hind counselled Muslim students to orchestrate the Hijab controversy in Karnataka.
Demand for PFI’s ban
The demand for a ban on PFI has grown over the years.
Several investigation agencies, including the National Investigation Agency (NIA), have named PFI in many cases. The first module of Islamic State that NIA busted in Kerala had some members of PFI.
PFI and SDPI have been under the scanner in UP after the anti-CAA violence triggered in the state in 2019-20. In addition, several leaders of the Popular Front of India were also named as accused in the Bengaluru riots that took place in August 2020.
Raids on PFI
The ED has been investigating the PFI’s alleged “financial links” on charges of fuelling the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests in the country, the 2020 Delhi riots, alleged conspiracy in Hathras (a district in Uttar Pradesh) over alleged gang-rape and death of a Dalit woman, and a few other instances.
The probe agency has filed two charge sheets against PFI and its office-bearers before a special PMLA court in Lucknow.
In February last year, the ED filed its first charge sheet against PFI and CFI on money laundering charges, claiming its members wanted to “incite communal riots and spread terror” in the aftermath of the Hathras gang rape case of 2020.
Those named in the charge sheet include K A Rauf Sherif, national general secretary of CFI and a member of PFI; Atikur Rahman, national treasurer of CFI; Masud Ahmed, Delhi-based general secretary of CFI; journalist “associated with PFI” Siddique Kappan; and Mohammed Alam, another CFI/PFI member.
In the second charge sheet filed this year, the ED had claimed that a hotel based in the UAE “served” as a money laundering front for the PFI.
(With inputs from PTI)