India bans Islamist group, citing 'terror links' - RTHK
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India bans Islamist group, citing 'terror links'

2022-09-28 HKT 15:50
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  • Hardline Hindu groups have long campaigned for a ban on PFI, which is estimated to have tens of thousands of members around India. File photo: AFP
    Hardline Hindu groups have long campaigned for a ban on PFI, which is estimated to have tens of thousands of members around India. File photo: AFP
India banned an Islamist group and its affiliates for five years on Wednesday over alleged terrorism links, after a nationwide crackdown that saw hundreds of the organisation's members arrested.

A government notice said the Popular Front of India (PFI) had been outlawed for its ties to extremist organisations, including the Islamic State group, and for violent attacks attributed to its members.

The PFI denies involvement in extremist activity and says it is the subject of a "witch hunt" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government.

Police have arrested more than 300 PFI cadres in raids across the country since Friday.

A home affairs ministry statement announcing the ban outlined a laundry list of charges accusing the group of violent and subversive activities.

Members had engaged in "cold-blooded killings of persons associated with organisations espousing other faiths, obtaining explosives to target prominent people and places and destruction of public property", Wednesday's notice said.

The ministry said PFI members had been responsible for at least 10 murders in southern India since 2016 and accused the group of "pursuing a secret agenda" to radicalise society and undermine democracy.

Hardline Hindu groups have long campaigned for a ban on PFI, which is estimated to have tens of thousands of members around India.

Calls to outlaw the organisation have grown in recent months after several Muslim-led protests against the government.

The group was accused of organising street rallies against a state ban on the wearing of hijabs by Muslim school students in Karnataka, which resulted in violent confrontations between protesters and Hindu activists.

Modi's government has been accused of clamping down on dissent and promoting discriminatory policies toward the country's 200-million-strong Muslim minority since coming to power in 2014. (AFP)