Homeland Security

PFI to The Fore
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 04 Jan , 2020

With Uttar Pradesh suffering maximum loss of government property during the recent anti-CAA protests and several people losing their lives, there is news that the State Government may ban the Popular Front of India (PFI) whose two active cadres arrested in Meerut were involved in the violence.  At least one state administration official is under surveillance for PFI links – hopefully he will not be spared.

PFI is not in the current list of 42 organizations banned by MHA, which remains  a mystery – vote-bank politics?

There are also reports that UP Government may ask the Centre to ban PFI. Concurrently, some TV channels have reported PFI cadres having entered Delhi to disrupt Republic Day celebrations. UP is also hosting DefExpo 2020 in February at a scale much larger than earlier ones, which could be a terrorist target. Notably, some 300 hundred cars were gutted in a fire in the parking lot of Aero India 2019 at Bengaluru though cause of fire was never established.

PFI is not in the current list of 42 organizations banned by MHA, which remains  a mystery – votebank politics?  In early 2000 media reports had indicated Al Qaeda, LeT and ISI footprints in Kerala, responsible for establishing the Kerala-headquartered Popular Front of India (PFI). In February 2008, a terrorist training camp with Pakistani flags was discovered in Karnataka woods surrounded by religious shrines (see photo), post interrogation of three Islamic radicals – Riyazuddin Nasir alias Mohammed Ghouse, Abu Baker and Mohammed Asif.  Interrogation also revealed radicals were taken to this camp in the woods for “initial” terrorist training.

In October 2008, four prospective PFI cadres recruited by LeT were killed in Kupwara (J&K) trying to cross into POK. Photographs of armed PFI cadres in combat dress undergoing arms training in the jungles of Kerala have mysteriously vanished from the internet.

In July 2010, Kerala Police seized country-made bombs, weapons, CDs and several documents containing Taliban and Al-Qaeda propaganda from PFI activists. In 2012, the Kerala Government informed the Kerala High Court that activities of PFI were inimical to the safety of India and it (PFI) is “nothing but a resurrection of the banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in another form”, asking the Court to ban PFI’s Independence Day program ‘Freedom Parade’. Same year (2012), Kerala Government also informed the Kerala High Court of PFI’s active involvement in 27 murder cases, mostly of cadres of CPI-M and RSS.

In April 2013, Kerala police raided PFI centres across North Kerala and recovered weapons, foreign currency, human targets for firing practice, bombs, explosives raw material, gun powder, swords etc. A training camp in Narath, Kannur was also raided and 21 PFI activists were arrested with terror material and also a document containing names of several leading personalities and organizations, which police suspected was a hit-list.

India’s R&AW had information that extremists from Kerala terror groups had been going to Pakistan since 1992 and CAM Basheer was first Keralite to go to Pakistan but no further information was available on him.

In 2014, Kerala Government again informed the Kerala High Court that activists of the NDF/PFI were involved in 27 communally motivated murder cases, 86 attempts to murder cases and in 106 communal cases registered in the state. An article titled ‘India: Jihad’s southern outpost’ published in the Sri Lanka Guardian on July 15, 2010, revealed some startling facts, including:

•  Kerala Islamists-Pakistan links date back to early 1990s.

•  India’s R&AW had information that extremists from Kerala terror groups had been going to Pakistan since 1992 and CAM Basheer was first Keralite to go to Pakistan but no further information was available on him.

•  Raids on houses PFI leaders revealed PFI links with ISI, Al Qaeda;
economic terrorism in Kerala  planned and supervised by the ISI including counterfeit currencies worth several crore confiscated from people coming in from the Gulf, which officials admit is tip of the iceberg.

•  Major instance of ISI infiltration into Kerala exposed with arrest of Muhammad Fahd (30), Pakistani national with Kerala roots and an Al-Badr coordinator in October 2006 with associate, Muhammad Ali Hussein with weapons including AK-47 rifles and components of IEDs, possibly linked to bomb explosions in Kozhikode in March 2006.

•  Police raid on house of  Mansoor, PFI’s Ernakulam district secretary unearthed minutes of meetings giving out plans to monitor preparedness of Indian Navy and sneak into the defence exhibition at Kochi’s naval base and collect maximum information.

•  Raids on another PFI leader, Kunjumon, recovered campaign material of Al-Qaeda-Taliban – CDs of terrorist executing sentences by Al Qaeda, decapitation of girls and women and repulsive mutilation of their bodies amidst  cheering by terrorists. The July 4, 2010 act of cutting off the right hand of a college professor at Muvattupuzha by PFI was possibly due to such Islamist radicalization.

No figures are available about the cadre strength of PFI but it is expanding.

It may be recalled that the social media hate campaign launched in South India threatening people from northeast that triggered the Assam Riots in 2012 was traced to the HujI and PFI, along with PFI affiliates Manita Neeti Pasaraj and Karnataka Forum for Dignity. More than 60 million messages were sent on August 12, 2012 with about one third uploaded from Pakistan.  This led to some 30,000 people of northeast rushing back home from Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi etc. The ‘National Political Conference’ organized by the PFI in February 2019 saw the merger of social organizations in eight more states into the PFI. 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 PFI chairman Abdul Rehman who was former national secretary of SIMI. PFI’s state secretary Abdul Hameed too is former state secretary of SIMI.

No figures are available about the cadre strength of PFI but it is expanding. What danger it poses to the security of the nation can be gauged  from the above including its top hierarchy having simply transited front the banned SIMI, even though this radical organization established as a successor to the National Development Front (NDF) in 2006, projects an innocuous aim of establishing an egalitarian society  in which freedom, justice and security are enjoyed by all.

South India is also facing influx of Rohingyas, many reportedly travelling by trains with families. Similar danger is also from sea. In November 2018, at least six boats with refugees were intercepted by enforcement agencies. Media reports of December 10, 2018 indicated intelligence wings suspect fishing trawlers from Indian coast are picking them up mid sea from the boats which carry them from Myanmar coast.

No doubt we are a democracy but if a Pakistani lookalike flag is acceptable then perhaps another party can even have an ISIS or AQIS lookalike flag?

According to them, the southeast coast, from Orissa to Karnataka, is highly vulnerable as boats from Myanmar have easy access to fishing boats operating from these states.

The ISIS, Al Qaeda, ISI-LeT influence in Maldives too needs to be monitored considering the proximity of Maldives to India. Additionally, it is also surprising that there is no concern about the flag of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), which is not very different from the flag of Pakistan.

IUML of course is a registered political party with the Election Commission of India (ECI) but should there be no norms about flags and logos of political parties? What message is conveyed to the public at large by the IUML flag (see photo of car of an IUML MLA), even though IUML is not a terrorist organization. No doubt we are a democracy but if a Pakistani lookalike flag is acceptable then perhaps another party can even have an ISIS or AQIS lookalike flag?

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is a former Lt Gen Special Forces, Indian Army

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3 thoughts on “PFI to The Fore

  1. Popular Front of India (PFI) is Indian ingenious militant organization and has no links with Pakistan. The Indian agencies have their plants in this organisation and it has record of foreign based terrorist acts sponsored by agencies. Everyone is clear why India is acting against Kerala and, no doubt, it is the first state which passed resolution against Citizen Amendment Act (CAA).

  2. Great analogy on flags and liberalism by the writer. Charlie Chaplin once said ” But men in the mass form the headless monster, a great brutish idiot that goes where prodded”. Is it the same that is happening to Indian citizens prodded by some individuals who espouses a sinister cause using the protection offered by Indian democracy.

  3. The PFI should be banned. Rahul Firoz Khan and Family should be arrested and shot for treason to India’s native culture. Letting them go is ike giving the invaders of the medieval era a second chance to destroy

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