PFI radicals, vested interests hinder CAA and NRC reforms

All ultra radical,  fundamentalist outfits bear a pretence of performing social service and  the Popular Front of India (PFI) is by no means an exception, as indeed is Pakistan based Lashkar e Taiyyaba  (LeT) which, ostensibly, does render social service channeled through its offshoot Faleh e Insaniyat Foundation (FiF), proscribed  since February 2019 under international pressure, but continuing to operate under a disguised identity. 

The activities of the above two Pakistan based outfits are of crucial concern to Bharatiya intelligence agencies because they have sleeper cells all over Bharat, particularly in sensitive areas vulnerable to inflame communal passions . They are also major donors to PFI.

One wonders whether political parties opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) or, its legislated Act the Citizenship Amendment  Act (CAA) have any concern, whatsoever, for religious minorities, including Hindus being systematically persecuted and their women being raped and forcibly converted to Islam. Surprisingly, even several  liberal thinking Pakistani scribes and human rights groups have expressed their  sympathy for the victims of such atrocities.

Besides Hindus, Christians, Shias, Ahmediyas and other non-Sunni groups have  also been systematically persecuted in Pakistan. Danish Kaneria, an excellent test cricket player, who happens to be a Hindu living in Pakistan, has stated that he has, on more than one occasion, been discriminated because of being a Hindu.

CAA is tailored to address the problems of persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan:     

CAA is designed to facilitate the migration to Bharat of persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who sought refuge in Bharat prior to December 31, 2014. It does not proscribe the migration of Muslims from these three countries to Bharat, who seek refuge in Bharat as per existing standard process.                                            

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has recently categorically reaffirmed that there is no provision in the CAA to take away the citizenship of anyone including  Muslims. Said Shah, “I challenge Rahul babu to show even a single clause in the CAA that has provision to take away the citizenship of anyone.“

In a media briefing  on Dec 28, 2019, the Union Law Minister Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad has stated  “The government is committed to a National Register of Citizens  (NRC) but will initiate the exercise only in accordance with the law -after following all the legal obligations and consulting all the stake holders, including the states.“  Prasad has also assured allies of BJP that they would definitely be consulted. Prasad has already spoken to Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) Sukhbir Singh Badal to ally any apprehensions, which his party may have.

NRC is a register, which stores the numerical data base of all Bharatiya citizens, whose creation is mandated by the Citizenship Act 1955 as amended in 2003. Most progressive nations maintain similar records.

The street protests and the outrage from opposition parties could have been prevented if the government had pre-sold the rationale and benefits to Bharatiya citizens  by bringing in initiatives like the CAA and NRC. This could have been achieved by discussing the matter threadbare among the stake holders and the public at large, before embarking on the above initiatives.

The detractors of the above initiatives have accused the government of transgressing the Constitution and particularly  Article 14 which emphasizes “equality before law “ but experts on Constitutional law such as the former Solicitor General Harish Salve and Aryaman Sundaram opine that there is no breach of any of the constitutional provisions. 

PFI seeks to murder Democracy

PFI is an extremist Islamist organization formed as a successor to the National Development Front (NDF) in 2006. The NDF was a Kerala based outfit established in 1994, which drew its inspiration from SIMI – propagating  Wahhabist Sunni Islam.

Unruly elements, coupled with politicians (who are perennially in search of  causes, sometimes genuine and more often than not “conveniently fabricated excuses”) across many states notably, UP; Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam and Madhya Pradesh have indulged in stone pelting,  arson and rioting against the CAA. 

Police investigations have revealed that the PFI  top cadres had been regularly meeting in Delhi from September 2019. Ram Janmabhoomi Court verdict and its implications was PFI’s main concern initially, later on NRC and Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) were added on as ancillary, but equally important issues to be addressed.

Modus Operandi for PFI’s agitation

Currently, street protests around the world are designed to inflict sufficient damage to life, limb and property, thereby disturbing  social harmony so that the protest weary and fatigued authorities are forced to concede to protestor’s demand without examining the merits of the same. The protestors adopted this very tactic along with a most irresponsible misuse of social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook. The havoc unleashed by the protest mobs was attempted to  be given a dignified nomenclature i.e. Gandhian style democratic civil disobedience .

As was expected, the maximum violence happened in the BJP ruled states. Investigations by the police reveal that stones and destructive arms like Molotov cocktails were financed and provided logistic support for transportation by vested interests.

The protestors claim that the police tried to dislodge their   peaceful protests with an extremely heavy hand and human rights violations were rampant.

On  the other hand,  Muzaffarnagar’s prominent Muslim Cleric  Maulana Kalimullah unreservedly acknowledged that the protesters adopted undemocratic and, therefore, unruly means of challenging the law enforcing authorities, indulging in arson, vandalism and wide scale destruction of public property and he also tendered an unconditional apology for their inappropriate action. He pleaded with the authorities to pardon those among the protesters who just happened to be on the disturbed scene so as to help quell  the violence from the rampaging mobs, and thereby help the police.

A similar remorseful afterthought has emerged from a cross-section of the protesters in Bulandshahar who have presented a cheque of Rs 6.27 lakhs  as compensation for causing damage to public property.

Such gestures are a realization from the protesters that their protests were ill advised.

There have, without doubt, been some police excesses also. And a thorough probe needs to be done by an impartial investigating agency and those in violation of the law need to be held to account.

Arrests in Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh police have arrested the head of the PFI and sixteen others, and have initiated measures to confiscate the property of the culprits to recover, whatever little they can to compensate the State for the losses and damage to public property.

In Shamili  district of Western Uttar Pradesh, 28 people including  14 members of PFI have been arrested since December 19. This includes Mohammad Shadab one of main kingpins of  PFI. As per latest reports, the Uttar Pradesh government is planning to ban the PFI.

Dilution of the Assam Accord

Undocumented  exodus of hordes of people from the erstwhile East Pakistan & present day Bangladesh to Assam, West Bengal and Tripura occurred due to socio-cultural exploitation and human rights violations, and later also due to “economic migration“.

During the civil war in the former East Pakistan and during  the struggle for its independence from Pakistan, thousands of people  migrated to West Bengal. Also, during those years, many migrated to other Bharatiya states as “refugees“.

The main objective of the Assam Accord of 1985, signed by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on behalf of the Government of Bharat and the leaders of the Assam Movement, was to make the State of Assam “free from the threat of population movements from the then East Pakistan“ which would secure not only the socio-economic status and prevent ethnic cleansing of  the locals of Assam, but was expected to protect Assam from demographic changes.

Sadly, deadlines for the strict implementation of the Accord got diluted, from time to time, due to vote bank politics , especially engaged into by politicians such as Assam’s then Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia. The latter was so flippant that on particular occasions he spoke vehemently against migration into Assam from Bangladesh while, on other occasions, he made a complete volte face, depending upon which occasion could reap him a greater harvest of votes. Resultantly, there are around 20 million Bangladeshi immigrants currently residing in Bharat according to a statement given by the Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijuju in the Rajya Sabha.

The state of Assam is currently under a socio-economic turmoil, which the Government of Bharat is attempting to rectify through the CAA and NRC.

One need not delve very deep to understand why some political parties in the opposition do not favour legislations designed  to protect the rights of Bharatiyas and persecuted refugees living in border states such as Assam. The answer is patently simple to discern, the undocumented migrants just need to be provided with documents which will convincingly establish their citizenship to be “Indian.“ Those bracketed as “Indians“, through these devious means, will become a confirmed vote bank for the parties which uphold their causes, even though such causes may put Bharat’s own interests in jeopardy.

The hypocrisy of some political parties is astounding.  A classic example of which can be found in the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement in the Rajya Sabha in 2003. He said “we should have a more liberal approach in granting citizenship to persecuted minorities residing in Bangladesh and Pakistan.”  Now he, and others from his party, are singing an entirely different tune.


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About the Author

VBN Ram
I write on current political and economic issues as well as geo-strategic concerns . My articles have been widely published in the mainstream media. I have occupied senior positions in the private and public sector and have travelled extensively.