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PFI ban evokes broad support across India’s political spectrum

Home Minister Amit Shah has been known for his iron will to tackle extremism (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@ANI)

The government’s decision to impose a 5-year  ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) has evoked broad support across the political spectrum.

Assam Chief Minister  Himanta Biswa Sarma , who belongs to the BJP vociferously welcomed the government’s decision to ban the PFI calling it a “decisive and bold” step by the Modi government.

“The government is firm in its resolve to ensure that anyone with a diabolical, divisive or disruptive design against India shall be dealt with iron fist. India of the Modi Era is Decisive and Bold,” Sarma tweeted.

Following the ban,  Assam Police, which has arrested several members of the PFI across the state,  said that all district police officials were keeping a  watch on any activity of PFI and its affiliates.

Basavaraj Bommai, Chief Minister of Karnataka, said that all political parties across the political spectrum had been seeking a PFI ban. He said that it “was a long-time demand by the people of this country, by all political parties, including the Opposition like CPI, CPM & Congress”. He added: “PFI was involved in anti-national activities, violence. They had their command outside the country”

India’s decision to ban the Popular Front of India (PFI) had been taken to prevent the spread on international terror in India. The government of India’s notification pointed out that some of the PFI’s founding members are the leaders of banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). It singles out PFI’s links with the proscribed Jamat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). It said that PFI had links with ISIS as well.

Internationally the group has been collecting funds from its committees that have been established in UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other places, according to a charge sheet of the Enforcement Directorate.

CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury also offered a qualified backing to the government’s decision. “ We have to politically isolate such forces spreading extremism, terror tactics and also have to administratively and firmly take action against all criminal activities that they indulge in; at the same time, any extremist activities indulged in by any section must be acted against.”

Congress MP and member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Arif Masood said that the PFI should have been banned earlier. “…When IB was giving inputs, it should’ve been banned immediately. Why did they wait for such a long time? Question is rising because they took such a long time.”

Some of the victims of  PFI’s crimes offered tacit support for the PFI ban.  Professor TJ Joseph, a former lecturer of Malayalam literature at Newman College in Thodupuzha, whose hand had been chopped by PFI activists 12 years ago for alleged blasphemy,  did not overtly respond. “So, I am not reacting. Many of the victims of the PFI’s attacks are no longer alive. I would like to observe silence in solidarity with those victims.”

Expectedly AIMIM President, Owaisi  said in a string of tweets described the PFI ban as “draconian”. “A draconian ban of this kind is dangerous as it is a ban on any Muslim who wishes to speak his mind The way India’s electoral autarky is approaching fascism, every Muslim youth will now be arrested with a PFI pamphlet under India’s black law, UAPA.”

Also Read: Govt bans Popular Front of India for five years over terror links