Explaining the genesis of PFI, a central government officer told TOI that PFI parent outfit National Development Front (NDF) was formed in 1993 in Kerala as a “resistance group” to counter the challenge from “Sangh Parivaar“. Many top PFI leaders – E Abubacker, E M Abdur Rahiman and P Koya, all now under arrest – were associated with SIMI before it was banned in 2001.
An intelligence officer told TOI that PFI, since inception, has had resistance against Hindu outfits and leaders as its main plank and maintains a secretive hit squad that engages in targeted killing of Hindu activists and those accused of “blasphemy”. The ‘hit squad’ or ‘service wing’ members, mostly from low-income groups, are fed with anti-Hindutva ideology and trained in handling knives, swords, etc.
Many Hindutva and RSS activists have faced fatal attacks from PFI assailants since 2016. A probe into the July 2022 murder of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha leader Praveen Nettaru, who had commented on the halal issue, in Bellare, Karnataka, revealed that he was picked from a list of RSS and Bajrang Dal members of the town, prepared by PFI cadres to avenge the death of Muslim migrant labourer Masood on July 21.
PFI, said an officer, was continuously involved in anti-government propaganda and “spreading the narrative that Muslims were being persecuted in India”. It had taken a lead in organising anti-CAA protests during December 2019-March 2020, many of which had turned violent.
Some 21 radicalised activists of PFI, particularly from Kerala, had joined ISIS and participated in terror activities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, an officer told TOI. Further, PFI is alleged to share links with Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and al Qaida-linked Turkish charity Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, among others.
CBDT found that the source of deposits with respect to 36 bank accounts, out of its 85 bank accounts, were not supported by the financial profile of account holders. CBDT withdrew registration granted to PFI and on March 30 also cancelled the tax exemptions of PFI front Rehab India Foundation.
ED found a well-organised structure created by PFI in Gulf countries for raising funds. The collected fund was sent to India through hawala. PFI’s accountant during investigation into Delhi riots revealed that its headquarters at Shaheen Bagh, Delhi, kept crores of unaccounted money (mostly collected as zakat), which was used without any accountability.