Popular Front of India
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|Motto||Naya Karavan : Naya Hindustan|
|Formation||22 November 2006|
|Type||Voluntary Based Nonprofit organisation|
|Purpose||To establish an egalitarian society in which freedom, justice and security are enjoyed by all.|
|Headquarters||G-66, 2nd Floor, Shaheen Bagh Kalindikunj, Noida Road, New Delhi – 110025, Tel/ Fax – 011 29949902|
Chairman of the Front
|Janab E Abubacker|
The Popular Front of India (PFI) is a Neo Social Movement "PFI spreading tentacles to Andhra,says police chief", Indian Express, 12 August 2010</ref> formed as a successor to National Development Front (NDF) in 2006. It acquired a multi-state dimension by merging with the National Development Front, Manitha Neethi Pasarai, Karnataka Forum for Dignity and other organisations. The organisation has various wings to cater to different section of society, including the National Women's Front and the Campus Front of India.
PFI claims to work in cooperation with the National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations and other human rights activists in a bid to curb human rights violation in the nation. The organisation campaigns for Muslim Reservation in line with the Mishra Commission (National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities) report to address inequality faced by Muslims in India. In 2012, the organisation conducted protests against the use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UAPA] to detain innocent citizens. The Front formed a broad-based alliance of different minority and civil rights leaders and groups against growing authoritarian and communal tendencies where steps taken included a national movement against UAPA, the Sikh-Muslim mission for communal harmony, the joint platform that has commemorated anti-Sikh riot of 1984 and Babri Masjid demolition of 1992.
Since its inception, the organisation has been accused of various antisocial and anti-national activities. The allegations include connections with various Islamic terrorist groups, possessing arms, kidnapping, murder, intimidation, hate campaigns, rioting, Love Jihad and various acts of religious extremism. In 2010, the assault on Prof. T. J. Joseph who published a controversial question paper, supposedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad, was linked to the PFI. However, the charges were denied by the organisation, which added that the accusations were fabricated to malign the organisation.
In 2012, the Government of Kerala informed the High Court their opinion that the activities of the Popular Front are inimical to the safety of the country and that it is "nothing but a resurrection of the banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in another form", in its argument to ban the organisation's Independence Day programme, dubbed "Freedom Parade." The High Court dismissed the Government's stand, but upheld the ban imposed by the State Government. In July 2010, the Kerala Police seized country-made bombs, weapons and CDs and several documents containing Taliban and Al-Qaeda propaganda, from PFI activists. The raids conducted were subsequently termed "undemocratic" and "unconstitutional" by the organisation. 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. However, in April 2013 a series of raids by the Kerala Police on PFI centres across North Kerala found lethal weapons, foreign currency, human shooting targets, bombs, explosive raw materials, gunpowder, swords, among other things. The Kerala Police claimed that the raid revealed the "terror face" of the PFI.
In 2015, the Madras High Court issued a notice to the Commissioner of Police based on the PIL charging police for having given misleading information to HC on the 'unity march, a variant of the 'Freedom Parade'. The HC directed to register a case against the CoP and the SP, and ₹3.3mn as compensation for 'loss of image, reputation and defamation.'  The organisation provided counter arguments to the allegations positioned against it in its 2012 nationwide campaign "Why Popular Front."
The organisation is also known for its anti-Imperialist & anti-Zionist stance, as seen in the pro-Palestine protests in various parts of the country in November 2012, and later in July 2014 with the nationwide solidarity campaigns christened "I am Gaza." The organisation is also known to support pro-democratic movements. In 2015, the Popular Front protested against the death sentence given to a democratically elected leader, Mohamed Morsi and his followers. The protest was in front of the Egyptian embassy in New Delhi.
- 1 History
- 2 Criticism and accusations
- 2.1 Background
- 2.2 Connection with Students Islamic Movement of India
- 2.3 Arms training camp in Narath
- 2.4 Kidnap and Murder of boys for ransom
- 2.5 Murder of CPI(M) and RSS workers
- 2.6 Murder of ABVP activist N Sachin Gopal and Vishal
- 2.7 SMS campaign against people of the North-East
- 2.8 Attack on T. J. Joseph by PFI activists
- 2.9 Shimoga Violence
- 3 On accusations and counter charges
- 4 Political Activities
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
The PFI started in Kerala as successor to National Development Front in 2006. It went on to merge with the Karnataka Forum for Dignity of Karnataka and the 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 actively advocates Muslim reservations, personal law courts for Muslims, the cause of Dalits, Muslims and tribals, and scholarships to deprived Muslim students.
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. It has taken up the issue of reservation in government and private sector jobs and Parliament and Assemblies and in cooperation with the Confederation of Muslim Institutions in India, it organised 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 is Urdu for "New Caravan: new India".
Criticism and accusations
The various allegations include connections with various Islamic terrorist groups., possessing arms, kidnapping, murder, intimidation, hate campaign, rioting, Love Jihad and various acts of religious extremism, the most infamous among them being the Assault on professor T. J. Joseph who had set the controversial question paper insulting the Prophet Muhammed. However, the charges were refuted by the PFI which alleged the accusations as baseless and fabricated to malign the organisation.
Connection with Students Islamic Movement of India
In 2010, the PFI was alleged of having links with banned Islamic terrorist organisation Students Islamic Movement of India. The PFI's national chairman, Abdul Rehman, was the former national secretary of SIMI, while the organization's state secretary, Abdul Hameed, 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 organisation. The alleged SIMI connection has been dubbed baseless by the leaders of the Popular Front claiming that the Front was launched in 1993, whereas the SIMI ban came much later in 2001. Retired Indian army officer P. C. Katoch has claimed that the PFI maintains links with the Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI.
Arms training camp in Narath
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. The Popular Front leadership and those arrested claimed that it was a Yoga training programme organised as part of a personality development programme. and 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 organisation's image. On 18 May 2013, the NIA had arrived to investigate the alleged extremist activities in Narath.
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 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 these KFD members, Karnataka state government requested the Union government to ban Karnataka Forum for Dignity.
Murder of CPI(M) and RSS workers
In 2012, The Kerala government informed the Kerala High Court in an affidavit, that Popular Front of India had active involvement in 27 murder cases, mostly of cadres of CPI-M and RSS. In 2014, it has again submitted before the Kerala High Court that activists of the NDF/PFI were involved in 27 communally motivated murder cases, 86 attempt to murder cases and in 106 communal cases registered in the state. The affidavit was filed in response to a petition filed by Thejas, spokesperson of PFI in the State, challenging the refusal of the government to give government advertisements to the daily. A carpenter Abid Pasha was arrested for six murder cases. He had links with PFI.
Murder of ABVP activist N Sachin Gopal and Vishal
On 6 July 2012, N. Sachin Gopal, a student of Modern ITC, Kannur and the district leader Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, was allegedly stabbed by members of the Campus Front and Popular Front of India. Student leader Vishal was murdered. Gopal 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.
SMS campaign against people of the North-East
After the Assam riots in 2012, an SMS hate campaign was launched in the South of India threatening people from the North-East with retribution, particularly after Ramzan. Investigators traced the source of these hate messages to Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) and the Popular Front of India, along with its affiliate organisations Manita Neeti Pasarai and Karnataka Forum for Dignity. More than 60 million messages were sent in a single day on 13 August 2012. Some 28-30 percent of the messages were found to have been uploaded from Pakistan. The SMS campaign was designed to create a panic among the people from the North-East, forcing them to flee. 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 rumors and threats.
The PFI has denied the accusation.
Attack on T. J. Joseph by PFI activists
In Jan 2011, Kerala Police has filed a charge sheet against 27 alleged PFI activists in conjunction with an incident in which they chopped the hand off of a Kerala professor who had offended the religious sentiments of his students. After the attack, the College management had removed him from service in Jan 2011. 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.
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.
One of the chief accused in this case, Prof. Anas was acquitted. He had contested to win the local elections from jail. He alleged the accusation is a scheme devised by the NIA and the police to deliberately target the Popular Front 
Karnataka's Shimoga faced violence during rallies held by Popular Front of India, which resulted in the death of two persons. Popular Front of India activists were arrested for the murder of Vishwanath Shetty. Later it was proved that the second killing was related with Popular front.
On accusations and counter charges
In 2012, the Popular Front had launched a nationwide campaign "Why the Popular Front", detailing the alleged false accusations and attempts by mainstream media and other organisations to tarnish its image. The organisation maintains that it strives hard to restore the rights of the depressed and marginalised sections of the Indian society. The organisation's former Chairman, E M Abdul Rahman, gave elaborate justifications for the accusations that the PFI faces that year. Further, the organisation filed complaints with the Press Council of India against 10 newspapers—both Hindi and English—for their attempts to tarnish the image of the PFI. In 2013, in line with the PFI's counter charge, "Coastal Digest" reported that the NIA and the IB denied that they had shared any such information, denying the claims by the media. This was in response to the 2012 complaints against 10 newspapers. In March 2015, Indian intelligence agencies reported that the role of the PFI in the 2011 Mumbai bombings, 2012 Pune bombings and 2013 Hyderabad blasts has been found; claims which where subsequently denied by the PFI.
National Political Conference
The public meeting at Calicut Beach on 17 February 29 which marked the conclusion of National Political Conference saw the merger of social organisations 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 organisations 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 conducted a freedom parade on 15 August in 2009 and 2010 in celebration of Indian Independence Day. The national flag was carried in front of the parade, and orchestra bands played patriotic songs. The parade was followed by public meeting with participation from the public. In 2010, the parade was conducted in Udupi and Mettuppalayam. In the previous year it was conducted in Mangalore and Madurai.
The Kerala state government banned the Freedom Parade stating it would jeopardise 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 PFI 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.[failed verification]
Social Justice conference 2011
The Social Justice Conference was held at Ramlila Ground in New Delhi on 26 and 27 November 2011. The Conference was seen as a convention of like minded organisations and movements. The first day of the conference is said to have had two seminar sessions on "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, 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.
Protest against misuse of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act
21 activists of PFI where charged with Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for involvement in anti-national activities. Following which in May 2013, the organisation conducted a statewide campaign in Kerala, it started on 8 May from Kasargod highlighted to the general public how the UAPA is being misused, and how it is terrorising citizens who resisted oppression from ruling elite. The campaign concluded with a mass gathering at the State Capital, Thiruvananthapuram on 30 May.
Muslim minority reservation and employment
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 was taking place in assemblies and parliament. In the context of the Central Government's decision on reservation in higher education, the South India Council organised three Regional Conventions on Reservation: in Calcutta 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 organised by the South India Council jointly with All India Milli Council at New Delhi on 29 August 2006. Former Prime Minister V. P. Singh also addressed the convention In 2010, the National Executive Council of the PFI demanded a ten percent reservation for Muslims across India.
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