The arrest of over 100 workers of the Popular Front of India (PFI) in pan-India, multi-agency raids on Thursday has revealed the terror outfit’s sinister plans to not just foment trouble between communities but also establish its hegemony by joining hands with non-state actors.
Among charges under UAPA and of terror funding, top Intel sources have told CNN-News18 that PFI also had its eyes set on leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Thahleel, the spy wing of PFI, was given a “very specific task” to collect all information about RSS leaders, including details of their movement. They were asked to collect information about the leaders’ offices, families, cars and the guards protecting them.
Simultaneously, this wing was assigned to give information about leaders involved in the Babri Masjid demolition. Their job was also to create a wide gap between Hindus and Muslims by “portraying negative image of RSS”, the sources added.
According to PFI, this information was important for the “final roadmap”. In case significant information was found, it had to be shared with foreign cadre or other affiliated terror groups like LeT.
Sources said PFI wanted to attack several RSS leaders in the past and had conducted recce of ‘Shakhas’ after which security was beefed up.
The proscribed outfit has been accused of orchestrating several political murders of BJP and RSS activists in the past, especially in Kerala, though it has denied the allegations.
Founded in Kerala in 2006, PFI claims to strive for a neo-social movement ostensibly for the empowerment of marginalised sections of India and emerged in the aftermath of the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
The outfit’s name has been in the news for all the wrong reasons the past few months, whether it be Karnataka’s Hijab row, the Hathras rape and murder or the Citizenship Act Amendment protests. Recently, PFI hogged headlines after Bihar Police unearthed a terror module in Phulwari Sharif, a suburb of Patna, and revealed the outfit’s sinister vow of “making India an Islamic country by the year 2047”.
Thursday’s raids, coordinated among the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and state police, took place across 13 states, including Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Bihar. Officials said the searches took place at the premises of persons involved in terror funding, organising training camps, and radicalising people to join proscribed organisations.
Top sources have told CNN-News18 that the government is planning to ban PFI in what is being seen as the final blow after its top leadership was arrested in two UAPA cases and many more face allegations of mobilising funds in the name of religious activities and creating tensions between communities.
In February last year, the ED filed its first charge sheet against PFI and its student-wing Campus Front of India (CFI) on money laundering charges, claiming its members wanted to “incite communal riots and spread terror” in the aftermath of the Hathras gang rape case of 2020. Those named in the charge sheet include K A Rauf Sherif, national general secretary of CFI and a member of PFI; Atikur Rahman, national treasurer of CFI; Masud Ahmed, Delhi-based general secretary of CFI; journalist “associated with PFI” Siddique Kappan; and Mohammed Alam, another CFI/PFI member.
In the second charge sheet filed this year, the ED had claimed that a hotel based in the UAE “served” as a money laundering front for the PFI.