PFI's Twitter account taken down day after group banned for 5 yearstext_fields
New Delhi: The Twitter account of Popular Front of India (PFI), the Islamic group banned by the government, and several of its leaders have been withheld in India by the social media platform. Its Facebook page and Instagram profile are no longer available either.
The organisation's account, @PFIofficial, had around 81,000 followers. Twitter has withheld the handles of its chairperson, OMA Salam (@oma_salam), who had just under 50,000 followers, and general secretary, Anis Ahmed (@AnisPFI), who had nearly 85,000 followers. Both of them are among the 200-plus PFI leaders arrested in raids across the country over the past two weeks, just ahead of the ban.
The PFI Twitter takedown comes a day after the Union Home Ministry notified the five-year ban on the organization and its affiliates over alleged "terror links". The National Investigation Agency and the Enforcement Directorate have alleged that the PFI has links with the Islamic State terror group and held arms training camps.
The PFI, whose student wing plans to go to court against the ban, denied these allegations but duly dissolved its units after the government action. Organizations covered by the ban under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) 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.
A political offshoot of the PFI, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), which isn't on the list, said the ban is a "challenge" to Indian democracy and citizen rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
The probe agencies claimed to have found a "bomb-making manual" and physical education guidebooks as alleged proofs that the PFI "wanted to establish Islamic rule in India by 2047".
A day before the ban, however, responding to recent raids, the PFI had issued a statement: "The organization in its history of three decades has been endeavoring to prevent the youths from getting radicalised... and to bring them to the mainstream by instilling patriotism, strong allegiance to the Constitution of the country and respect the democratic values... Popular Front has never thought of or endeavoured to establish Islamic rule in the country."
The Congress in Kerala and its coalition partner Indian Union Muslim League or IUML welcomed to ban on PFI but said that RSS should be banned too. Senior IUML leader MK Muneer said the PFI was a radical outfit that misinterpreted the Quran and persuaded community members to adopt the path of violence.
Among those who have condemned the PFI ban is Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, chief of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). He said the organisation should not be blamed for the crimes committed by "some individuals".