If a longer view teaches us anything about the strange times we are in, it is the seemingly inextricable link between extremism and a couple of late entrants in Kerala’s political landscape.
The brutal murder of Abhumanyu, for the intelligence community in Kerala, is just the latest in several criminal strikes giving Islam a bad name in Kerala. In fact, the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its affiliates — the Campus Front of India (CFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) — have been under constant surveillance for their desire to outrage and horrify, not to influence and convince.
Known as the National Development Front (NDF) in its earlier avatar, the PFI was born in 2006 as a ‘social outfit for the marginalised’ following its merger with like-minded groups in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. “We have been sending periodic reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) seeking a ban on these outfits. The reports are based on their day-to-day functioning, their role in inciting communal tensions, their active participation in sensitive issues, among other things,” explained an Intelligence Bureau official.
The activities of the PFI and its affiliates in Kerala had come under the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) scanner more than once.
Under NIA scanner
As many as 34 PFI/SDPI workers had been convicted by the NIA special court here in the Narath Arms Camp case and the related Muvattupuzha palm chopping case. Similarly, the activities at institutions run by the PFI — Green Valley Foundation and Sathya Sarani in Malappuram — formed the core of the national agency’s investigation during its probe into the Hadiya case.
The reports had suggested that about 10 men among those who had migrated had previous association with the PFI. The unit, however, is learnt to have submitted no proposal to the higher-ups on its own.
The Kerala Police too have their concerns about the role of the PFI and SDPI in espousing political Islam. In an affidavit submitted before the Kerala High Court in February 2014, the government stated that the activists of the NDF/PFI had been found to be involved in 27 communally motivated murder cases, 86 attempt-to-murder cases, and 106 communal cases registered in Kerala alone.
Accusing the PFI of pursuing the clandestine agenda of ‘Islamisation’ through conversion and communalisation of issues’, it had also raised the suspicion that the outfit was receiving huge funds from West Asia.
Top cops in the Kerala Police maintain that these organisations have assumed the characteristics of closely-knit communities. “With a strong orientation towards religious fundamentalism, they have specialised squads — the members of which are mobilised from different locations on a requirement basis, to execute different functions. Their interventions on various social and environmental issues — from GAIL pipeline to Kathikkudam, are indeed commendable though these are being used as a facade to push a grander but dangerous agenda,” said a top officer with the Kerala Police.
The State government still holds the view that banning such groups is not the right option. While State Police Chief Loknath Behera was unavailable for comment, the office of the Chief Minister confirmed that the State was not pressing for a ban on PFI or its affiliates.
With a strong orientation towards religious fundamentalism, they have specialised squads — the members of which are mobilised from different locations on a requirement basis, to execute different functions, says a top officer in Kerala Police
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