India’s federal Home Ministry has established a separate unit to deal with Popular Front of India (PFI), an Islamic group in Kerala, after security agencies alleged that it was involved in mass rioting across the country last month.
Sources said the decision was taken after a high-level meeting chaired by Indian Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and intelligence officials tackling money laundering activities.
It was decided that senior officials will look into the activities and funding that the PFI has been receiving for the last few years.
Last week, the state police of Uttar Pradesh arrested over 100 members of the PFI on charges of instigating unrest. The state has witnessed the deaths of 20 people during protests against the newly amended citizenship law for immigrants, enacted by the Narendra Modi government. The law allows Indian citizenship for non-Muslim religious minorities facing persecution in three countries namely Afghanistan, Pakistan, and, Bangladesh.
PFI, on Monday, said that central government agencies have launched an extensive and malicious disinformation campaign against the group but “none of these agencies will succeed in establishing links with anti-India activities of the organisation”. The group asserted that it will continue to mobilise against “discriminations and atrocities” by the government.
Last month, India’s economic intelligence agency, the Enforcement Directorate, found 73 PFI bank accounts believed to be responsible for triggering anti-citizenship law protests in the state. The Enforcement Directorate has questioned at least six members of PFI in connection with cases involving the funding of anti-citizenship law protests.
The group has also been charged with involvement in political killings in Kerala, which the PFI has denied.
The intelligence agencies say they have also found evidence suggesting that the PFI is an offshoot of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) which was banned as a terrorist organisation in 2001.
The Kerala Police conducted a series of raids against the PFI between 2010 to 2013 and seized home-made bombs, weapons and documents containing Taliban and Al-Qaeda propaganda from PFI activists.