Ahead of Centre’s ban, chorus from Sangh, affiliates
While the Sangh, through its various forums, has been flagging concerns related to PFI since its formation in 2007, in 2013 it openly named PFI in a resolution on radical outfits.
In October 2013, the Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal baithak of RSS adopted a resolution where it expressed “grave concern” over “growing radicalisation of jehadi forces, especially in the southern states of Bharat”.
Flagging radicalisation of Muslim youths, terror training and export modules, attacks on Hindu activists, and “active connivance with anti-national Maoists and international jehadi elements”, the resolution said, “The emergence of PFI and its front organisations in Kerala consequent to the ban on SIMI should be seen in this context”.
Since then, the Sangh and its affiliates have consistently articulated concerns over rising influence of the PFI, particularly in the context of Sangh members being targetted in Kerala by suspected PFI activists. While VHP and Bajrang Dal have held protests demanding a ban on PFI, RSS-affiliated magazine ‘Organiser’ has published close to 300 articles, reports and editorials on PFI in the last five years.
The Sangh’s concerns about PFI in public forums has become more pronounced in recent years in the wake of RSS and BJP attempts to spread footprints in South India, and resultant frequent clashes with PFI workers. They also gathered pace following anti-CAA protests of 2020, when PFI was alleged to be at forefront of the protests.
In January 2020, in its editorial written by Prafulla Ketkar, the ‘Organiser’ compared the protests against CAA to the Khilafat movement and painted it as being anti Hindu. “The fear-mongering created by the Communists and the Congress and cleverly manipulated by the radical Islamic organisations like Popular Front of India is turning out to be undemocratic, violent and divisive as happened with the case of Khilafat movement,” Ketkar, editor of ‘Organiser’, wrote.
In the backdrop of the hijab controversy in Karnataka, the RSS had raised the issue of “elaborate plans by a particular community to enter the government machinery” in its annual report released in March in Gujarat. The report, released during the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha baithak, said there was “growing religious fanaticism” in the country in the guise of “Constitution and religious freedom”. It called for “all-out efforts with organized strength” to “defeat this menace”.
More recently, VHP has been openly demanding a ban on PFI.
Following Saudi Arabia’s ban on Tablighi Jamaat in December 2021, VHP stated, “The authorities should also crack down on institutions and organisations like Darul Uloom Deoband and PFI that direct or indirect nourishment to the Tablighis, Tablighi Jamaat and Ijtima,” it stated.
In February this year, VHP and Bajrang Dal held a rally in Hyderabad over the murder of a Bajrang Dal worker in Shivamogga and called for a ban on PFI.
On June 16, Bajrang Dal and VHP held protests and submitted memoranda, demanding a ban on “organisations like PFI and Tablighi Jamaat”.
2 held for raising pro-PFI slogans
Two activists of Popular Front of India were arrested on Thursday under the UAPA after they raised pro-PFI slogans at Kallambalam in Thiruvananthapuram rural police district.
According to the police, seven PFI workers gathered at a junction at Kallambalam, raised pro-PFI slogans after removing the flag of the organisation. PFI area president Abdul Salim, 44, and organisation worker Naseem, 38, were arrested. Other five persons were identified, said the police.
Meanwhile, the police sealed the PFI office, Periyar Valley, at Aluva in Ernakulam rural district as part of implementing the ban.
Earlier in the day, Kerala government had issued a notification delegating its powers to all district and police chiefs to take action against the organisation. ENS