PFI Crackdown: Questions To Consider For The Thinking Indian Muslims

by Ujjawal Mishra - Sep 23, 2022 06:43 PM +05:30 IST
PFI Crackdown: Questions To Consider For The Thinking Indian MuslimsPopular Front Of India (PFI). (Representative image)

The nationwide crackdown on PFI, a radical Islamist outfit, brings an opportunity to introspect and choose a course forward.

Context: In the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday, a multi-agency operation conducted searches and raids across the country.

  • The raid against the Popular Front of India (PFI) was spearheaded by the NIA, ED, and state police forces.

Arrests galore: Over a 100 PFI functionaries were arrested for their alleged support to terror activities.

  • Those apprehended include PFI chairman O M A Salam, national secretary Nasaruddin Elamaram, and Kerala unit president C P Mohammed Basheer.

  • The maximum number of arrests were made in Kerala (22).

  • 20 PFI functionaries were taken into custody each from Maharashtra and Karnataka.

  • Arrests were also made in Tamil Nadu (10), Assam (9), Uttar Pradesh (8), Andhra Pradesh (5), Madhya Pradesh (4), Delhi (3), Puducherry (3), and Rajasthan (2).

  • The operation was their "largest-ever investigation process so far."

On the radar: Home Minister Amit Shah, NSA Ajit Doval, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, NIA director Dinkar Gupta, and other agency chiefs were closely monitoring the operation.

  • The PFI was under the scanner of central agencies for quite some time.

  • Their involvement was alleged in the CAA-NRC protests, the Delhi riots, and the Karnataka hijab controversy.

  • PFI functionary Siddique Kappan was arrested in 2020 and charged under UAPA in the Hathras incident.

  • The organisation also reportedly played a role in the nationwide unrest following the Nupur Sharma controversy.

The PFI's response after the arrests was along expected lines.

  • They criticised the central government for "using agencies to silence dissenting voices."

  • PFI Kerala state general secretary A Abdul Sattar said "any attempt to ban the Popular Front of India will be met with strong resistance," adding that the NIA was "implementing RSS agenda."

  • PFI called for a "dawn-to-dusk hartal" in Kerala, its stronghold.

  • Visuals from the hartal showed state transport buses being attacked in Alappuzha, Kozhikode, and Wayanad, in Kerala.

Time for introspection: No honest, thinking Muslim can ignore what's happening right before their eyes.

  • They need to ask themselves a basic question: Is a narrow interpretation of Islamic law compatible with an open society?

  • For instance, can everything from the Quran, the Sunnah, and the Hadith be applied to India?

  • Whether it's time to de-emphasise certain things that are not relevant to a pluralistic society — this needs to be looked at.

Hatred for the other is sadly a striking feature when one goes through Islamic scriptures.

  • Pejorative references to non-Muslims as kafirs, the extolling of ghazis, and the categorising of countries as Dar-al-Islam and Dar-al-Harb based on the religion of the ruler go against peaceful coexistence.

  • Isolation of the Muslim community into ghettos and then letting organisations like Tablighi Jamaat radicalise young Muslims is a recipe for unrest.

Alignment with the Ummah, the global Islamic community, even when it goes against India's interests vitiates relationships with people from other communities.

  • Whether it's jumping to protect Aurangzeb, Tipu Sultan, Khiljis, or other Muslim invaders, Indian Muslims have to answer: Why protect and celebrate Muslim bigots?

Isolation breeds distance. Does locking oneself into ghettoes and creating no-go zones for the police help end this self-imposed isolation and fear of contamination by other faiths?

  • Seeking separate civil laws, broadcasting the azan five times a day even in crowded neighbourhoods, and offering namaz on public roads are already routine practice.

  • Still, victimhood is presumed by the Muslim community, with a desire to stretch religious rights further.

  • This prevents a fair and sensible discussion around eradication of Muslims' woes.

Bottom line: Introspection along these lines will determine whether Indian Islam can become compatible with India’s plural and open society.

Adapted from R Jagannathan's article.

Ujjawal Mishra is a Staff Writer at Swarajya. He tweets @Ujjawal1Mishra.
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