The Twitter accounts of the Popular Front of India (PFI), the government-banned Islamic group, and several of its leaders have been held in India by the social media platform. Its Facebook page and Instagram profile are also no longer available.
The organization’s account @PFIofficial has around 81,000 followers. Twitter has retained the names of its chairman OMA Salam (@oma_salam) and secretary general Anis Ahmed (@AnisPFI), who has nearly 85,000 followers.Both are in the 200+ PFI leader arrested During the past two weeks, there have been raids across the country, just before the ban.
PFI Twitter was taken down a day after the Union Home Office notified the group and its affiliates that they had been banned for five years for so-called “terrorist links”. The National Bureau of Investigation, which investigates important pan-India cases, and the Law Enforcement Agency, which tracks illicit funds, have claimed that the PFI has ties to the Islamic State terror group and holds weapons training camps.
PFI’s student unit plans to take the injunction to court, and PFI has denied the allegations but formally disbanded its unit after the government took action. Organizations covered by the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) ban include Indian Rehabilitation Foundation, Indian School Front, All India Imam Council, National Federation of Human Rights Organizations, National Women’s Front, Youth Front, Empower India Fund Society and Rehabilitation Centre Foundation, Kerala.
A political branch of the PFI, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), which was not on the list, said the ban was a “challenge” to constitutionally guaranteed Indian democracy and civil rights.
Investigators claim to have found a “Bomb Making Manualand Sports Guide as alleged evidence that the PFI “wanted to establish Islamic rule in India by 2047”.
However, a day before the ban, the PFI issued a statement in response to the latest raid: “Throughout its three-decade history, the organisation has worked to prevent young people from becoming radicalised … and to bring them into the mainstream by Instilling patriotism, unwavering loyalty to the country’s constitution and respect for democratic values… The Popular Front never thought or tried to establish Islamic rule in the country.”
The Kerala Congress and its coalition partner the Indian Union Muslim Union or IUML welcomed the ban on PFIs but said RSS should also be banned. IUML senior leader MK Muneer said the PFI was a radical group that misinterpreted the Quran and persuaded community members to go down the road of violence.
Hyderabad MPs among those who denounced PFI ban Asaduddin Owassi, Chief All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). He said the group should not be blamed for crimes committed by “certain people”.