The Indian government has banned the Popular Front of India (PFI) – a controversial Muslim group – for five years for allegedly having links with terrorist groups.
The ban, announced Wednesday morning, comes amid a crackdown on the organization – in the past week, authorities have raided its offices in several states twice and arrested several of its leaders.
The PFI, which denies the allegations against it, has recently staged nationwide protests against the raids.
About the ban
The government says it has banned the PFI and its associate groups for allegedly undertaking “unlawful activities” which are “prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty and security of the country”.
It has cited the group’s alleged links with banned Islamist groups – the Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi) and the Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) – as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“The PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts operate openly as a socio-economic, educational and political organisation but, they have been pursuing a secret agenda to radicalise a particular section of the society working towards undermining the concept of democracy,” the federal home ministry said in a statement.
Reports say that more than 250 people linked to the group have been arrested during raids on 22 September and 27 September.
The searches were carried out by India’s top anti-terror agency, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which fights financial crimes.
The NIA said that it seized “incriminating documents, cash, sharp-edged weapons and a large number of digital devices” during the searches.
In a statement issued after the first raid, the Popular Front of India had described the action against it as “witch hunting”. It accused the NIA of making baseless claims to create “an atmosphere of terror”.