The Campus Front of India (CFI), which is among the associate organisations of the Popular Front of India (PFI) banned by the Central Government, has been at the forefront of the protests and legal fight over the right of Muslim girls to wear hijab in educational institutions in Karnataka.
The Centre has also imposed a ban on the Rehab India Foundation (RIF), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation, and Rehab Foundation, Kerala for their alleged terror activities under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA.
The action of the Central Government came days after a crackdown on the PFI, arrest of over a hundred of its activities, and seizure of several dozen properties across the country.
Launched in 2009, three years after the PFI was formed as a national outfit, the CFI had been active in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and anti-NRC protests in Delhi and elsewhere in the country
A prominent feature of the CFI is the presence of women in its ranks, as seen during the anti-CAA protests. Women make up 40 per cent to 50 per cent of its members, including in the national leadership.
The Campus Front, which considers the Sangh Parivar or the ABVP as its main rival, claims to have four to five lakh members across the country, though its presence is mostly confined to Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. On campuses in Kerala, including at professional colleges, the CFI has carved out its space mainly fighting the ABVP, the students’ wing affiliated with the RSS, and the CPM’s Students’ Federation of India (SFI), and now has units in most institutions.
It also had a presence in prominent central universities in Assam, Rajasthan, and Delhi, with active units and members, including the Hyderabad Central University. In Uttar Pradesh, it has members but no state unit.
The CFI’s emergence has been the cause of tension between it and the SFI on campuses in Kerala. In 2018, an SFI worker Abhimanyu was allegedly stabbed to death by CFI workers. There have been other campus killings blamed on the CFI-ABVP tussle.
However, despite its growing popularity on campuses, the CFI has not made much of an impact in college union elections, barring a few seats.