I begin with a humble question to all apostles of Free Speech and advocates of Human Rights - In the name of Freedom of Expression & Practice of one's Religion, can one section subjugate the other. And if it is done, are the so-called Apostles of freedom, really seeking freedom or are they themselves the most deceitful oppressors of the idea of 'Freedom'. Before you wonder what I am driving at, sample this.
Until 6 years ago, barely anyone between Vindhyas and the mighty Himalayas, i.e, the north Indian states, knew much about an organisation - PFI (Popular Front of India). PFI was basically considered as a minority centric organisation, active in Kerala, trying to make headlines with its extremists reprisals.
In 2012, the Kerala government had filed an affidavit in Kerala High Court accusing PFI of been involved in 27 murders in the state.
Again in 2014, the Kerala government submitted another report claiming involvement of 86 PFI activities in heinous crimes like murder and anti-national activities. The central investigating agencies found links between PFI and Pakistani spy agency, ISI. With the exposure of hate speeches of Islamic preacher, Zakir Naik - investigating agencies claimed, again, that there is a link between PFI and Zakir Naik.
127 Kerala based Muslims, who were influenced by PFI literature joined ISIS operation abroad and hence agencies again linked PFI with ISIS.
By December 2019, enough evidence and investigations had been effected to force states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Jharkhand and other to demand a ban on PFI by the Home Ministry. But no such ban has been effected and nor is being contemplated by the home ministry uphill Oct 2020.
Question is why not? While a one-line answer to the question posed is sufficient, let's get to the basics.
Tons of evidence had been produced before the Home Ministry till 2017, that PFI was linked to numerous anti-national activities. Links with certain Gulf -based extremist individuals, links with Pakistani ISI, links with Kashmiri extremists and also links with Islamic underworld network have been brought to the notice of the government of India. These were more than sufficient to ban or prohibit any organisation, which has its headquarters in Delhi.
Yet, PFI leaders fruitfully encourage their tribe in and around Jamia Nagar in Delhi. To the tune that anti-CAA protests in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and many other states were actually planned and executed by PFI members. The social media inspired during of 3 police stations along with police personnel in Bengaluru was organised by PFI members. And the latest plan was to create a caste riot in UP, post Hathras alleged rape case.
So, let's seek the answer to the pressing question - Why doesn't the government ban PFI, after all, a number of founding members of PFI are those who were part of the banned SIMI. PFI and its political wing, SDPI (Social Democratic Party Of India) are the lynch-pin, who are blamed for all disruptions across the country.
If its anti-CAA agitation, PFI is blamed. If its JNU (Jawahar Lal Nehru) student agitation against AVBP high handedness goes aggressive, PFI is blamed. If there are riots in Delhi, the burden of organising the riots is laid on PFI doorsteps. And as in the recent Hathras victims mishandled case, leading up to a caste war-like situation - PFI is the convenient culprit. For successive state governments, PFI is a convenient escape-goat. Since north Indian public is not much clued into the activities of PFI, the narrative is easily constructed as these - an Islamic, fundamental, radial outfit desirous of derailing the developmental agenda of varied governments, is at its destructive best and the state governments are curbing its activities to bring peace and order. In simple terms, governments always need someone to blame for their failures.
While there is mounting evidence of PFI involvement in a host of anti-national activities, the urgency is declaring a ban on PFI, escapes all rationale.
Given the Hathras disruption and detention of 4 PFI activities, it becomes imperative of government of India to immediately ban and prohibit all activities of PFI. And in doing so, does it really matter that a section of 'liberals' would paint a communal picture to this decision.
Regardless of the fact that this free-thinking liberal section is least concerned with the involvement of PFI in various anti-national activities. So, rather than being caught in an image trap, GOI should immediately and effectively prohibit operations of PFI.
(Writer of the article, Ajay Kumar, is Consulting Editor, India TV)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The opinions do not reflect the views of India TV)