From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : PFI
Mains level : Terrorism and radicalization in India
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has launched a massive nationwide search operation in connection with anti-terror activities linked to the Popular Front of India-PFI.
What is the Popular Front of India (PFI)?
- The PFI was created in 2007 through the merger of three radicalists organisations in southern India, the National Democratic Front in Kerala, the Karnataka Forum for Dignity, and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu.
- A decision to bring the three outfits together was taken in November 2006 at a meeting in Kozhikode in Kerala.
- The formation of the PFI was formally announced at a rally in Bengaluru during what was called the “Empower India Conference” on February 16, 2007.
Agenda of the PFI
- The PFI has projected itself as an organisation that fights for the rights of minorities, Dalits, and marginalised communities.
- It has frequently targeted the alleged anti-people policies of the State even as these mainstream parties have accused one another of being in cahoots with the PFI to gather the support of Muslims at the time of elections.
- The PFI has itself never contested elections.
Parallel organizations to PFI
- 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, Dalits, and other marginalised communities.
- The SDPI’s stated goal is advancement and uniform development of all the citizenry including Muslims, Dalits, Backward Classes and Adivasis and to share power fairly among all the citizens.
- The PFI is a key provider of ground workers for the SDPI’s political activities.
Why is PFI under crackdown?
(1) Links to terror outfits
- Many volunteers of PFI are allegedly involved in terror funding, organising training camps, and radicalising people to join proscribed organisations.
- It has been involved in carrying out social and Islamic religious work among Muslims on the lines of the work done by right-wing groups.
- The PFI does not maintain records of its members, and it has been difficult for law enforcement agencies to pin crimes on the organisation after making arrests.
(2) Promoting Radicalization
- The outfit is hostile to the consolidation across the country and the rise of a single non-secular party as the nation’s pre-eminent political and ideological force.
- The post-2014 political landscape and the self-alienation of minorities has further pushed sections of the community towards groups like the PFI.
- The outfit is also said to have a large number of supporters in Gulf countries who contribute handsomely to its kitty, something which is under the scanner of investigating agencies.
(3) Hostility against state mechanism
- Starting out as an organisation primarily rooted in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the PFI has spread its wings far and wide, with a presence in at least 18 states.
- It has found particularly fertile ground in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Assam.
- Authorities have accused the outfit of instigating and funding protests against the CAA and the National Register of Citizens.
(4) Barbarism in the name of religion
- The PFI has had the most visible presence in Kerala, where it has been repeatedly accused of murder, rioting, intimidation, and having links with terrorist organisations.
- The Kerala government affidavit said PFI activists were involved in 27 cases of MURDER, mostly of CPM and RSS cadres, and that the motives were highly communal.