Concern in govt over PFI’s growing outfits, spread

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    While the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) may not make serious impact in the Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puduchery Assembly elections this month, the exponential rise of the minority-dominated outfit backed by the radical Popular Front of India (PFI), from Kerala to Uttar Pradesh, is making waves in the internal security establishment.

    The SDPI intends to fight on 98 seats in Kerala and seven seats in Tamil Nadu. The activities of PFI and its carefully selected affiliates have been a subject of intense review at the highest levels of the government given the fact that its operational nucleus comprises former SIMI leaders and activists.

    According to a government paper, starting largely as a Kerala Muslim outfit and successor to National Development Front (NDF), the PFI now has more than 80,000 members and sympathisers, with a countrywide spread.

    The paper, that has already been circulated in the PMO, National Security Council Secretariat and the Home Ministry, states that the PFI has a militant core cadre, radical following and a subtly divisive and subversive media organ.

    The PFI had come on the national radar after its activists chopped off the palm of a lecturer in Ernakulum district's Newman College on July 4, 2010, for alleged blasphemy in preparation of examination papers.

    While this case was handed over to the NIA last month, subsequent police raids at that time on PFI activists had led to the recovery of subversive material.

    The paper says that raid on 100-odd PFI establishments had led to recovery of crude explosives, lethal weapons, besides a computer disk containing clips of executions by the al-Qaeda. It says Green Valley Foundation in Mallapuram district provided combat training to PFI cadre under the cover of providing vocational training to the indigent and physically challenged.

    The government believes the PFI has close links with the International Fraternity Forum (IFF), which professes to look after interests of expatriate Indians in Gulf countries. Its investigations indicate IFF funds are finding their way to the PFI through alternative money transfer channels, explaining the "phenomenal" expansion of the outfit along with its front bodies.

    It was in 2006 that the NDF morphed into the PFI and then acquired multi-state dimension by merging with the Karnataka Forum for Dignity and Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu. The next expansion of the PFI took place during February 13-15, 2009, when 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 merged into the radical outfit.

    At the PFI's national committee meeting in Chennai on February 14, the principal agenda was expansion of the organisation in north and north-eastern states. The meeting was held after the PFI organised a successful rally in Kota, Rajasthan, on January 30, demanding reconstruction of the Babri Masjid and booking all those responsible for its demolition.

    The paper estimates that the PFI has now 35,000 activists in Kerala, 26,000 in Karnataka, 8,000 in Tamil Nadu, 15,000 in Rajasthan, 1,500 in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, 1,300 in Uttar Pradesh and another 300 in Manipur.

    Making common cause with Dalits, tribals and backwards and joining hands with the Ambedkar Samaj Party, the PFI is currently on a yatra through Uttar Pradesh interiors, which will culminate at Lucknow on April 14.

    Govt paper identifies five PFI fronts

    Social Democratic Party of India: Launched in New Delhi on July 29, 2009, it is headed by E Abubacker, who was the Kerala Zone president of SIMI in 1982-84. The outfit has independent presence in 16 states with around 60,000 members. It won nine seats in the gram panchayat elections in Karnataka in May 2010. Votary of Muslim reservation, the SDPI opposed the Allahabad High Court verdict in the Babri case and is at loggerheads with Hindutva forces in the south.

    All India Imam Council: Formed in Chennai in September 2009, it is chaired by PFI head E M Abdul Rahiman. It advocates the formation of Darul Qaza, Muslim personal law courts.

    Campus Front of India: It was formed at a Delhi convention on November 7, 2009, with delegates from Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, UP, Delhi and Manipur attending. The convention derided "Hindu Fascists" and professed the cause of Dalits, Muslims and tribals.

    Muslim Relief Network: A PFI NGO based in Kerala, it distributes 100 scholarships each year to deprived Muslim students. It receives subscription from the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah and has links with the World Association of Muslim Youth. The MRN has subsidiary units in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Assam, West Bengal and Delhi.

    National Women Front: It was formed on July 27, 2009, with the primary aim of advocating 10 per cent reservation for Muslim women from the backward communities in the proposed Women Reservation Bill.

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