Popular Front of India
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Guwahati: Three offices of the banned Popular Front of India, Assam (PFI) have been sealed in Assam and a strict watch is being maintained on its members since the government’s announcement of ban on the organisation, a police official said on Thursday.

The organisation’s Assam head office at Hatigaon here, besides the ones at Karimganj and Baksa have been sealed following the ban on it by the Centre, Additional Director General of Police (Special Branch) Hiren Nath told PTI.

”We are monitoring the situation closely. No arrests have been made since September 27 when 25 PFI activists across eight districts were apprehended. We will arrest all those who are wanted in connection with the cases registered by the police,” he said.

Cases have been registered against 25 activists and the police of the districts concerned are investigating them. The police headquarters are monitoring the probes, he said.

Eleven persons were arrested by the Special Operating Unit (SOU) of Assam Police on September 22-23 for their association with PFI’s activities and the state police headquarters is monitoring these cases,” Nath, who heads the SOU, said.

Meanwhile, an arrested PFI activist Farhad Ali, who is also the AIUDF Barpeta district general secretary, has been suspended from the primary membership of the party immediately after the announcement of the ban.

Aminul Islam, the general secretary (organisation) of AIUDF, an opposition party, said that Ali has been suspended and divested of all responsibilities.

Congress Rajya Sabha MP Abdul Khaleque told PTI that the Centre must inform the people of the actual reason of the ban and the anti-national activities on the basis of which the step has been taken in Assam.

”People have the right to know what exactly is anti-national activity for which PFI has been banned. As far as we know no arms or ammunition have been found from any activist in Assam … If it is for hate speech or propaganda then RSS, which was banned thrice earlier, also does the same,” Khaleque added.

The state government had written to the Centre on several occasions seeking the ban on PFI holding it responsible for creating an eco-system of terror activities that encouraged people to join the radical modules sponsored by ISIS and Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said.

A senior government official said the PFI activities came to the fore in the minority-dominated districts of Assam, particularly in the ‘char’ (riverine) areas, since 2014 when it began helping people from the community in filing documents for inclusion of their names in the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Prior to it the PFI activists were mainly involved in educational activities in the ‘char’ areas dominated by Bengali-speaking Muslims, he said.

”We had regular inputs from the char areas that mostly Hindi-speaking people came from outside the state and held meetings at the grounds of the private madrasas. We had even stopped some meetings as they were held violating prohibitory orders,” he said.

The PFI shot into prominence during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in 2019 and some of its activists were arrested for stone pelting during the violent stir against the contentious legislation. Since then the organisation was making all out efforts to foment communal strife across the state, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Its activists had tried to whip up communal passion by criticising every government policy, including the CAA, NRC and the ‘doubtful voter’. They also tried to convince the Muslim community that the new state education policy, th Cattle Protection Act, extension of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in some areas, the Teacher Eligibility Test in Assam, the Agnipath scheme and eviction from encroached lands were undertaken to attack the community.

The leaders of the outfit are tech savvy and extensively used the cyber space to provoke people to defy the government and to divide the society on religious lines, he said.

The PFI leaders were also misleading and inciting people on issues which occurred outside Assam, including the hijab issue in Karnataka, the Bilkis Bano issue, court verdict on the Gyanvapi mosque, criticising the Supreme Court verdict on the Ram Janambhoomi Babri Masjid issue, abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India and communal violence on Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti in Rajasthan, among others, a police statement had said.

Thirtysix PFI activists have been arrested so far by Assam police from different parts of the state and the national capital. The police had arrested 25 activists from eight districts on Tuesday and 11 others were nabbed on September 22-23, including the West Bengal president of the organisation from Delhi during the national crackdown on the outfit by multiple agencies headed by the National Investigative Agency.

Also read | Assam: Hojai DC, ADC suspended for assaulting biker with stick


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