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Volume IconWhat is the Popular Front of India?

Scores of people linked to Popular Front of India were taken into custody from various parts of the country during raids by NIA and Enforcement Directorate on Thursday. Know more about this outfit

ImageRaghav Aggarwal New Delhi
Aligarh Muslim University, AMU

While justifying his arrest and prolonged detention, the UP government had told Supreme Court that Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan had deep links with terror funding organisations like Popular Front of India and its student wing, Campus Front of India. The claim was denied by Kappan and his counsel.

Popular Front of India, or PFI as it is known in common parlance, is an outfit which has been in the eye of storm since its formation.

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What is PFI?
Created in 2007, PFI describes itself as the “organisation that fights for the rights of minorities, Dalits, and marginalised communities”. The decision to form the organisation was made on November 22, 2006, in Kozhikode, Kerala. And it is headquartered in New Delhi.

PFI was founded after merging three Islamic organisations in southern India, the National Democratic Front, the Karnataka Forum for Dignity, and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai. The organisation does not contest elections but carries on social and religious work among Muslims.

Another outfit, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) emerged from PFI in 2009. It raises political issues for Muslims, Dalits, and other marginalised communities. PFI provides ground workers to SDPI.

So why is PFI controversial?
PFI has been repeatedly accused of riots, murders, and having links with terrorist organisations in the state. In 2012, then chief minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy told the High Court that PFI is “nothing but a resurrection of the banned outfit SIMI”.

The Chandy government also filed an affidavit saying that PFI workers were involved in 27 murder cases. Most of those killed were from RSS and CPM.

PFI vs RSS: A rivalry through the years
But PFI workers are not the only ones accused of murders. The age-old rivalry between RSS and CPM has seen hundreds from both the sides losing their lives to violent attacks. PFI is the new entrant to this club.

In April 2022, A Subair, PFI president of Elappully, was killed outside a mosque. The police said that the killer’s vehicle was registered under the name of S Sanjith, a slain RSS worker. Sanjith was allegedly killed in November 2021, allegedly by the workers of PFI and SDPI.

In April 2022, SK Sreenivasan, another RSS worker, was hacked to death in Palakkad. Abubakar Siddique, PFI secretary for Palakkad, was arrested in September on the charge of Sreenivasan’s murder. Abubakr was also arrested in 2020 for inciting violence during the anti-CAA protests. 

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First Published: Sep 26 2022 | 7:00 AM IST

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