Twitter has ‘withheld’ the official Popular Front of India account a day after the government of India banned the organisation for a period of five years under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Facebook and Instagram, too, withheld the official accounts of the organisation.
On Twitter, where the organisation had over 80,000 followers, it showed that the account had been withheld in India following a legal demand. A similar notice was seen on the accounts of its chairperson OMA Salam and general secretary Anis Ahmed.
On Wednesday, after invoking the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to effect the ban, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that the PFI and its affiliates are linked to terror groups like the ISIS, propagate “anti-national sentiments… radicalise a particular section of society with the intention to create disaffection” and constitute a “major threat to internal security of the country”.
Saying it was “necessary to curb the nefarious activities” of the organisation, the MHA declared the PFI an “unlawful association” along with “its associates or affiliates or fronts including Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala”.
Within hours of the ban, the PFI announced it had disbanded. PFI Kerala general secretary A Abdul Sattar said, “As law-abiding citizens of the country, we accept the decision of the Home Ministry.’’
According to a document of the Home Ministry, the ban came in the wake of over 1,300 criminal cases registered across the country by law enforcement agencies against PFI members. These include offences related to the killing of leaders associated with hardline Hindutva organisations, organising suspected terror camps, alleged radicalisation of youth and links with foreign terrorist organisations such as the Islamic State.
The central government also directed all states and Union Territories to use their power under the UAPA against the PFI and its ‘affiliates’.
The central government notification also declared Rehab India Foundation, Campus Front of India, All India Imams Council, National Confederation of Human Rights Organization, National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala, as an ‘unlawful association’ under sub-section (1) of section 3 of the UAPA.