by Khurshid Alam (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 8, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1444)
Narendra Modi’s fascist regime has banned the social movement, Popular Front of India (PFI), accusing it of supporting “terrorist activities”. Responding to this scandalous allegation, the PFI said on Twitter: “This is nothing but prevention of the right to democratic protests against the central government’s witch-hunt targeting PFI and is quite natural and expected under this autocratic system.” The regime declared the group and its affiliates an “unlawful association” with immediate effect, imposing a ban on it for five years.
Indian home ministry said in a statement on September 28 that the PFI and its affiliates “have been found to be involved in serious offenses, including terrorism and its financing, targeted gruesome killings, disregarding the constitutional set up.”
In addition to PFI, the Modi regime banned its affiliates that include Rehab India Foundation, Campus Front of India, All India Imams Council, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation, National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation, and Rehab Foundation, Kerala.
The ban came amid arrests of scores of members of the Muslim organisation last month, accusing them of violence and anti-national activities. The National Investigation Agency (a federal body) raided locations in the states of Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and detained some PFI members. They were accused of organising training camps to “commit terrorist acts” or being involved in “anti-national activities”.
In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state that is controlled by Modi’s fascist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the police said they detained 57 persons linked to the PFI on September 27. The regime’s allegations are all too familiar: “violent acts conducted by them [those arrested] and their rising anti-national activities across the country.” Members of the organization were also arrested in the northeastern state of Assam.
Not surprisingly, the PFI condemned the series of arrests and related raids as harassment and held street protests against them. What kind of “terrorist” or “anti-national” activities has the PFI been involved in? It was involved in organising protests in 2019 against a controversial law that grants citizenship to some applicants from India’s neighbours, but excludes Muslims. Human Rights Watch called the law discriminatory.
Similarly, it took a stand against a ban on the wearing of hijab by Muslim students in Karnataka. The controversary arose when a Muslim college student, Muskan Khan was accosted by saffron-clad Hindu terrorists outside her college because she was wearing the burqa (Muslim face-covering). To her credit, Muskan Khan responded by shouting “Allahu Akbar”. Her video went viral.
Mohammed Tahir, a lawyer representing the PFI, said in a statement to the media that the Modi regime had failed to present evidence to substantiate the claim of PFI’s funding “terror” activities in India. He also challenged the regime’s narrative that the group had organized “riots” in Indian cities, or attacked Hindu organizations and their leaders.
The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), an affiliate of the PFI which has not been included in the ban, in a statement termed the ban on PFI a blow against democracy and human rights.
“Freedom of speech, protests, and organizations have been ruthlessly suppressed by the regime against the basic principles of the Indian constitution,” the SDPI said in a statement on Twitter.
“The regime is misusing the investigation agencies and laws to silence the opposition and to scare the people from expressing the voice of dissent. An undeclared emergency is clearly visible in the country.”
Since Modi became prime minister in 2014, the fascist ideology of Hindutva that takes inspiration from Nazism, captured the central government state machinery. With important organs of state under their control—the police, judiciary, army, civil service—Muslims have been the primary target although Christians and Dalits are also attacked. The ideologues of Hindutva have made no secret of the fact that they want to turn India into an exclusivist Hindu state in which there is no room for any other religious minority.
The Hindutva terrorists see Muslims as their primary target. With 200 million Muslims in the country, killing all of them would be a difficult task but the Hindutva terrorists insist on treating them as second-class citizens, and succeeding. Already, Muslims are discriminated against in education, jobs, politics and all other areas of life.
Leading figures of the BJP have openly called for the extermination of Muslims. In December 2021, a so-called Religious Parliament was held in Hardiwar at which blood-curdling speeches were made against Muslims.
The organizer of the Haridwar hate fest was the notorious Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand, according to a report in The Quint. “Economic boycott won’t work. Hindu groups need to update themselves. Swords look good on stage only. This battle will be won by those with better weapons,” the Hindutva fascist leader was quoted as saying.
It was Narsinghanand whose hate-filled speeches had led to attacks on Muslims in Delhi in February 2020 that the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR), a UN body, called a “pogrom”. The police refused to intervene when Hindu mobs attacked Muslims in Delhi.
At least 53 people were killed, most of them Muslims, and more than 250 injured. Only Muslim businesses were targeted and destroyed. In one case, an 85-year-old grandmother was burnt alive in her third-floor apartment in Delhi!
Killing Muslims has become the norm in India. The victims are not allowed even to protest such barbarism, as the banning of FPI shows.