Six months after the Jharkhand High Court quashed the ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI), the Jharkhand government has re-instated the ban on the organisation. An announcement by the Jharkhand Home Department on February 12 stated that PFI is involved in activities “dangerous” to the security of Indian states and has the power to “break communal harmony”.
According to the announcement, Jharkhand Police produced certain facts from which it appears that PFI is an “anti-national, unconstitutional, illegal” organisation. It claimed the PFI is involved in “violence, communal tensions, extremism, raising pro-Pakistan slogans” and allegedly has links with “terrorist organisations like ISIS”.
The announcement mentioned a few incidents to justify the move. Consider the incidents in Jharkhand mentioned in the announcement:
* In Pakur district, around 400 Muslims took out a rally in 2017 “without any permission” and raised slogans to ban the RSS and against BJP leader Hisabi Rai. It was stated that communal slogans were raised due to which people were “scared”. The protesters allegedly jammed the roads and had a scuffle with the police. A case was registered.
* Someone spat on the statue of Santhal tribal leaders Siddhu-Kanu in Sahebganj and a part of the statue was broken in September 2016. A case was registered. “Is ghatna ke piche PFI ka haath hone ki soochna praapt hui,” stated the announcement.
* During a protest march in support of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, the supporters raised “pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans” and were stopped by members of the Bajrang Dal and VHP.
In February last year, the government had issued a press release raising similar allegations and claiming that PFI was influenced by ISIS. After the ban, the Jharkhand government booked a few people who were found to be in possession of PFI pamphlets, banners etc. One of the accused then moved the Jharkhand High Court last year.
The High Court declared that the government’s notification appeared vague and was “arbitrary, unreasonable, and against the sanctity of law”.
Senior Advocate A Allam, who appeared for PFI in the High Court, said, “This is uncalled for as the government has repeated the old notification.”