India bans Muslim group for alleged terrorist activities

NEW DELHI (AP) — The Indian government banned a Muslim organization for five years, accusing it Wednesday of funding terrorist activities, providing armed training to its followers and radicalizing people for anti-Indian activities.

The ban follows the arrests and detentions of nearly 200 Indian Popular Front members and searches of its offices this month.

A lawyer for the PFI dismissed the charges and accused the investigative agencies of fabricating evidence and targeting the group.

Muslims make up more than 14% of India’s approximately 1.4 billion people. Tensions between Muslims and Hindus have risen, which critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi attribute to his government’s Hindu nationalist agenda.

The government has accused the PFI of links to India’s banned Islamic student movement, Bangladesh’s Jamat-ul-Mujahideen and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“PFI and its associates operated openly as a socio-economic, educational and political organization, but they pursued a covert agenda to radicalize a particular section of society,” the government notification reads.

The group emerged in 2006 to counter Hindu nationalist groups with the merger of the Karnataka Forum for Dignity and the National Development Front.

Mohammed Tahir, a lawyer for the PFI, said the government had not presented evidence that the organization received outside money and financed terrorist activities in India by staging riots in cities and attacks on organizations. Hindus and their leaders.

Violent crimes committed by PFI over the years included cutting off a university professor’s hand, killing people associated with other religious organizations, supporting the Islamic State group and destroying property, it said. the Indian National Investigation Agency.

These acts of violence “have had a demonstrative effect of striking terror into the minds of citizens”, he said in a statement.

Modi’s critics say the landslide re-election of his Bharatiya Janata party in 2019 encouraged the Interior Ministry and investigative agencies to declare individuals terrorists on charges alone, revoke the partial autonomy of the Kashmir, the only Indian state with a Muslim majority, and to set up a citizens’ register in the northeast state of Assam, which excluded 2 million people, many of them Muslims.

The ban on IFPs was invoked under the strict Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which gives extraordinary powers to the government to deal with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India. It can designate individuals as terrorists pending trial.

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