The Center’s massive crackdown provoked a strong response from the PFI, which practiced “hartal” in Kerala, which was its stronghold.
Here’s a look at how the organization founded in 2006 has spread its wings over the years.
After the destruction of the Babri Masjid, a group of Muslim activists, including several leaders of Indian Student Muslim Movement (SIMI), promoting the idea of a more active organization, one committed to the cause of the ‘Muslim-Dalit-Backward classes’.
This led to the formation of the National Development Front (NDF) in 1993. After more than a decade of tumultuous existence in Kerala, the NDF leaders thought of expanding their wings in other regions. other states, where there is scope to promote their activities. Bringing together like-minded organizations such as the Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD) and Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP) in Tamil Nadu, the NDF has transformed itself into an all-India organization called the Popular Front of India. Degree (PFI) at a conference held in Bengaluru in 2006.
Now, PFI is present in more than 18 states in India and has affiliated outfits such as Campus Front, National Women’s Front and All India Imam Council. The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political front of the PFI, was founded in 2009. PFI leaders are active in the National League of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO) and the Commission for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP).
According to the PFI’s constitution, its members “must abstain from evils such as alcohol and drugs”.
The reason behind the rise of PFI
The outfit successfully exploited the insecurities and fears of the Muslim community amid the consolidation of Hindus across the country and the rise of the BJP as a prominent political and ideological force of nation. The post-2014 political landscape and alienation of Muslims pushed sections of the community towards groups like the PFI trying to help Muslims in need.
The PFI is believed to have more than 40,000 members in the country in addition to millions of supporters, who are wary of official participation because of its controversial nature. It collects large sums of money which it uses to help community members in need as well as spread its message more widely. The outfit is also said to have a large number of supporters in the Gulf countries, who actively contribute to its outfit, something that is under the radar of investigative agencies.
Spread across India
Starting out as an organization primarily with roots in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, PFI has grown far and wide, with a presence in at least 18 states. It has found particularly fertile ground in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Assam. Its growing popularity can be seen in large ‘solidarity marches’ in Rajasthan and West Bengal.
Events such as the violence in Delhi and the Citizenship Amendment Act, which have further harmed Muslims, have provided an opportunity for groups like the PFI to work closely with the community and position themselves as a fighter for Muslim causes. Authorities have accused the outfit of instigating and funding protests against the CAA and the National Registry of Citizens.
To expand its reach, the PFI works with less privileged Muslims and provides monetary assistance to them whenever needed. It offers scholarships to Muslim students for higher studies, especially in the fields of journalism, law and human rights.
Another strategic intervention is in the area of legal aid provision. Given the large number of young Muslim men accused of acts of terrorism living in prisons, PFI provides these poor men with legal aid. While the group insists they are doing humanitarian work given the defendant’s poor socioeconomic status, their critics see it as a cunning ploy to win loyalty and loyalty. support of the people they helped go free.
Some important cases
Massacre of nine people at Marad in Kozhikode in 2003: The Judiciary Committee said the murder would not have happened if at least the local leadership of the NDF had known.
Cut off Professor TJ Joseph’s hand in 2010: 13 PFI activists punished by trial.
‘Weapons training camp’ in Narath, Kannur 2013: NIA court gives punishment to 21 defendants.