Looking beyond the PFI outfit ban

3 Min
Looking beyond the PFI outfit ban

Hari Jaisingh

The spectre of terrorism continues to haunt globally. Indian leaders are clear about the problem, yet there is hardly any integration of the Indian perspective on terrorism with America’s strategies. In fact, the Indian global view on terrorism is vastly different from American calculation and strategies.

Having suffered for years together at the hands of Islamabad-sponsored terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and other parts of the country, the Indian view is Pakistan-centric. However, New Delhi has to add the unknown Beijing factor as well, keeping in view the Sino-Pak axis directed against India.

New Delhi has invariably viewed even the civilian regime, directly or indirectly, controlled by the military junta in Islamabad to be the villain. That is the reason Indians do not relish any visible sign of pro-Pakistan-tilt in Washington’s policies.

Pakistan’s rulers have been the prime movers of militancy in Kashmir and beyond. What has been particularly disturbing in this dubious Pak game is the exploitation of the Islamic issue to foment trouble in the fragile socio-economic and political setting in India. This has often upset India’s social equations in view of its sizeable Muslim population.

It is regrettable that the desired appreciation of India’s domestic compulsions in the western world has been absent. Pakistan’s ISI has been very much part of the operation to destabilise this country. The problem of Talibanised Afghanistan has also originated from Pakistan’s epicenter of promoting terrorism in the region.

India, of course, is capable of fighting terrorism. A decisive Indian offensive can destroy the terrorist training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir [PoK] and Pakistani areas. However, such a move is unlikely to suit America’s interests in the area and hence India’s reluctance to do anything to the contrary.

It may be asked: what is wrong with this? Terrorism is terrorism and it must be tackled decisively. Unfortunately, the whole exercise has become rather dicey as Pakistan has got linked with India’s domestic policies involving Muslims.

As a nation, India cannot afford to communalise the polity and divide people on communal lines. We have to guard against this trend and evolve appropriate steps to meet the Pakistani challenge on our domestic front.

There is, of course, enough to unite Hindus and Muslims in the silken bonds of culture, language and social affinities. In this setting, religion has to be seen and practiced as a matter of personal choice. Is this feasible? Can we give up the grave mistake of seeing Indian Muslims through a Pakistani prism? There cannot be a straight answer to this question. All the same, it should be possible if we begin to treat Muslims here with due consideration as equal citizens in all walks of life.

India’s socio-economic and political setting is quite complex. Take the case of Kerala’s Popular Front of India [PFI] and eight of its affiliates and their dubious activities during the past several years in parts of Kerala. This was brought to light before the public after a recent examination of PFI activities by the National Investigation Agency [NIA]. After an in-depth probe, the NIA decided to ban the PFI. A number of its top leaders have also been arrested in the process.

The PFI has grown into a formidable force in parts of Kerala over the past several years. The Malabar House at Puthanathani used to be the PFI’s convention centre–cum-residential training outfit. Its main target of attack had been the Sangh Parivar, with the specific aim of taking on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS].

The PFI has made steady inroads into Kerala society and politics. It has constantly shifted shapes and forms. At times, the PFI used to project itself as a social organisation, while at other times it revealed its face of radical right wing identity politics. Over the years, PFI opened new frontiers of tension and turmoil within Kerala’s Muslim community. Reports suggest that the PFI used to send its cadres to Syria to join the Islamic State there. There have also been instances of the PFI cadre having infiltrated the ranks of security personnel, apparently with a view to carry out undesirable activities.

It is difficult to understand as to why the Social Democratic Party of India [SDPI] escaped the ban as it is believed to be the political wing of the PFI. Still, it was quick to distance itself from the PFI. The NIA needs to keep the SDPI activities closely under watch.

As a vibrant nation, India should not allow dubious outfits to play with the country’s future in the name of doing social work and for the uplift Muslims, Dalits and backward classes. India is a great democratic nation and unlawful activities on the part of any outfit must not be allowed, ban or no ban. (SAT)