The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday filed the charge sheet against Mohammad Ashif alias Asif of Kota and Sadiq Sarraf of Baran in Rajasthan, who are trained members of the Popular Front of India (PFI).
A spokesperson of NIA said, “They were involved in recruitment and radicalisation of impressionable Muslim youth for the PFI for committing violent acts. They were also found involved in organising training camps in handling of weapons and explosives, instigating PFI cadres to pick up arms and raising funds for carrying out violent activities. They were also found actively promoting enmity between different religious groups in India and motivating the youth to resort to violent means to establish Islamic rule in the country.”
The case against PFA was registered by the NIA in September 2022. The spokesperson said, “Asif and Sarraf radicalised gullible Muslim youth by brainwashing into believing that Islam was in danger in India and it was therefore essential for PFI cadres and the community to train themselves in use of arms for protecting Islam and establishing Islamic rule in India by 2047. They were collecting funds in the name of Zakat for procurement of weapons and organizing weapon and explosives training camps for PFI cadres.”
It may be noted that on September 28, last year, the PFI and eight of its affiliate organizations were banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) following a nationwide crackdown by the investigating agency alongside Enforcement Directorate (ED) which led to the arrests and recovery of purported incriminating documents from offices and residences of the outfit’s office bearers.
At the moment, the NIA is investigating at least 19 cases linked to the organization. Over 100 PFI activists including the chairman OMA Salam were taken into custody after a crackdown by the NIA and ED across 15 states last year.
A notification from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) dated September 28, 2022 proclaimed the PFI as outlawed for five years. It said that the outfit was involved in several criminal and terror cases and showed sheer disrespect towards the constitutional authority of the country with funds and ideological support coming from outside the nation which rendered it a major threat to the internal security of the country.
The MHA noted that the organization had links to global terrorist groups and some of its members joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and participated in terror activities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
A UAPA tribunal which was presided over by Delhi high court’s Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma, is currently holding hearings to review whether the PFI ban was justified or not; which is a legal procedure after every banning under the act.