Terror links to training sites for targeted killing: Government’s case against PFI

The ban on the Popular Front of India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act comes after more than 1,300 criminal cases were registered by law enforcement agencies across the country against PFI members and suggested their alleged terrorist links, security agency sources told The Indian Express on Wednesday. .

According to a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) document, these cases have been registered under provisions of the UAPA, the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act.

These include killings of leaders associated with Hindu organizations, organizing suspected terrorist camps, alleged radicalization of youth and crimes related to links with foreign terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State.

According to MHA documents, documents recovered from PFI members over the years include how to make IEDs using readily available materials, a brochure related to Mission 2047 and CDs – a document containing content on converting India into an Islamic State – handheld marine. Radio. sets, pen drives with pro-IS videos, ammunition, weapons, even physical education guide books.

PFI and its front organizations have a presence in 17 states, the document said, and the organization encouraged its workers to “take detrimental steps to maintain peace and harmony among various religious groups”.

PFI Office at New Delhi: Locked and sealed. PTI

Officials said some PFI operatives, especially from Kerala, had joined the Islamic State and participated in terrorist activities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Officials said some of them were killed in security forces’ raids in these theaters of conflict.

In 2017, the Kerala police said that six accused PFI activists – they were Abdul Ghiyum, Abdul Manaf, Shabir, Suhail and his wife Rizwana, Safwan – had joined the Islamic State in Syria. Security agencies later learned that Manaf and Shamir had been killed fighting IS in Syria.

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Declaring PFI and its affiliates as “unlawful associations” allows law enforcement agencies to seize bank accounts, confiscate the assets of these organizations – in short, strangle their funds and operations.

That year also, the NIA filed a chargesheet against eight people in Kerala for being members of IS and promoting its activities. It identified one of them as P Safwan, a graphic designer at Thejas, which the PFI called mouthpiece.

PFI members undergoing training in Kottayam, Kerala in 2010. PTI file

The MHA notification banning PFI also mentions its alleged links with IS and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). NIA is currently investigating 19 cases against PFI and its leaders.

MHA documents mention the killing of several Hindu leaders in which PFI activists are suspected to be involved: Praveen Nettaru killing (July 2022); RSS activist Sanjith (Kerala, 2021); Nandu (Kerala, 2021); V Ramalingam (Tamil Nadu, 2019); Abhimanyu (Kerala, 2018); Bibin (Kerala, 2017); Autumn (Karnataka, 2017); R Rudresh (Karnataka, 2016); Praveen Pujari (Karnataka, 2016) and Shashi Kumar (Tamil Nadu, 2016).

The PFI came into the spotlight in 2010 when its activists chopped off the hand of a Kerala professor, TJ Joseph, accusing him of blasphemy over a question asked in an examination paper.

Security personnel talking to Popular Front of India (PFI) workers, protesting against NIA raid on PFI office in Chennai (PTI photo)

The then UPA government handed over the case to the NIA which arrested several PFI workers and chargesheeted them. 13 people have been convicted in this case and 11 are on trial. But the main accused have fled the country.

The MHA document also mentions the recovery of arms and explosives by the Kerala Police from a training ground in Narath (Kannur) in April 2013. The case was transferred to the NIA and 41 PFI workers were convicted in 2016.

“The PFI secretly organized training exercises and military-like exercises where participants were trained to use force against certain religious groups, which the outfit considered enemies of Islam,” the MHA document said.

It also cited a case related to a training camp organized by the PFI in Nizamabad, Telangana this year. The case is now being investigated by the NIA. “The accused organized camps to train for terrorist activities and to promote enmity between different groups on the basis of religion,” the NIA said in a statement after its findings.

Security personnel stand guard outside the RSS office in Kochi on Wednesday. PTI

“Interrogation of the accused revealed that the PFI would identify Muslim youths, especially from the poor or middle class, who were then indoctrinated and trained in anti-Hindu ideology. The training involved the use of swords and nunchucks,” the MHA document said.

Among the agencies’ alleged recovery from suspected PFI operatives was an IED-making brochure, which was seized from Mohammad Nadeem in UP’s Barabanki.

The document mentions a diary recovered by the Enforcement Directorate from M Mohammad Ismail which “reveals a sinister plot by the PFI to create a civil war-like situation in India”.

The document identifies PFI’s funds and claims that PFI’s more than 100 bank accounts do not match the financial profiles of the account holders. It said, it has withdrawn the registration status of the PFI under Sections 12A and 12 AA of the IT Act.

In June, ED attached assets that included 23 bank accounts of PFIs and 10 bank accounts of Rehab India Foundation (RIF), the PFI’s front body.

“More than Rs 60 crore has been deposited in PFI accounts, including cash deposits of over Rs 30 crore since 2009. Similarly, around Rs 58 crore have been deposited in RIF accounts since 2010,” the ED said in a statement.

“This has been done as part of a larger criminal conspiracy by PFI and its related entities to raise funds at home and abroad to carry out various illegal activities resulting in numerous FIRs/complaints being registered against them for commission of scheduled offences. In due course of time and filing of chargesheet and conviction of its members/office-bearers,” the ED said.

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