On 19 December, the Kerala High Court of Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar asked the state government the reason for the delay in attaching the properties of the terrorist organization PFI (Popular Front of India). Earlier, the court had ordered the state government to recover Rs 5.20 crore from the office-bearers of the now-banned PFI and its State General Secretary, Abdul Sathar. PFI terrorists had caused widespread damage and violence after calling for a flash hartal on 23 September.
In his order on Monday, Justice Nambiar stated that the state government had done nothing substantial towards complying with its earlier order to take steps towards the realization of Rs 5.20 crore by invoking the provisions of the Revenue Recovery Act to proceed against the PFI and its office-bearers.
The court directed that the additional chief secretary from the Kerala Home Department should personally appear in court on 23 December. The Home Secretary should submit an affidavit detailing the time frame within which the directions for the recovery of the amount would be completed.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) officers conducted a pre-dawn swoop and arrested around 100 top PFI terrorists on 23 September. For almost one week, their supporters unleashed widespread violence and vandalized public property across Kerala. Alleged political interference meant local police had their hands tied and remained mute spectators. PFI was banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on 28 September 2022 for five years.
On 23 September, many Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses were attacked by violent hartal supporters, especially in Muslim-dominated areas. KSRTC, in its plea, contended that the hartal was called without advance notice, a violation of the High Court’s orders. The violence and stone pelting resulted in smashed windscreens and damaged seats on 58 buses.
Ten KSRTC employees and one passenger were also injured. Incidentally, the communist regime tried to pass off the incident slyly and initially mentioned losses of just 42 lakhs. Had Justice Devan Ramachandran not interfered and questioned the government’s logic, wouldn’t the PFI terrorists be out on the streets? They would have paid less than 1/10th of the losses to the exchequer.
Traders affiliated with the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industries moved the high court after they suffered losses. Both public and private property were also damaged, causing huge losses. Fear set in, massive public protests broke out, and there was unpredicted resentment against the PFI. Police then began arresting hundreds of PFI supporters in connection with the violence.
Sathar, the then PFI State General Secretary (he was not arrested on 23 September), called for the hartal, absconded, and announced the terror outfit’s disbandment. He was finally arrested on 28 September and handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
It was alleged that this short interval allowed Sathar and his accomplices to shift weapons, books of accounts, and other evidence from Kerala to other states with the connivance of Keralite politicians. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had ordered Kerala police not to show any haste in clamping down on these terrorists. Kerala police acted like mere puppets in the hands of their political masters.
Luckily, by the end of September, NIA officers stealthily took at least 250 top PFI terrorists into custody. In Kerala, they did not request police backup. Some media reports suggested that they shunned the Kerala police and brought in CRPF personnel for protection, security, and surveillance.
By then, the High Court was forced to initiate suo moto contempt proceedings against the PFI and its office-bearers. After the hartal, the court noted that the flash strike was against its 2019 directive. It specified that hartals should not affect the rights of those not associated with the protests. The 2019 order had also fixed a seven-day notice period before any hartal.
The court directed the Kerala government to recover the damages from PFI and its leaders. Sathar had caused considerable damage in that short timeframe when he was on the loose. The court also directed the state government to make Sathar an additional accused in all hartal violence cases.
On 8 November, the government swore in court that proper directions had been given to the revenue department for initiating recovery proceedings. Revenue officials were asked to prepare a detailed report of the properties/assets of the criminals. The Kerala government promised the court that recovery would be completed within a month. Allegedly, they did nothing and bided their time.
In early November, the government admitted in court that private persons suffered losses worth Rs 16 lakh during the violent hartal. It also said that the process to reclaim the loss from those who called for the violent hartal had been initiated. The Kerala government claimed they had appointed former district judge P D Shargadharan as the Claims Commissioner. By then, Kerala police had registered 361 cases and arrested 2,674 people in connection with the violence that happened on hartal day.
When the matter came up before the court this Monday, the home department, in an affidavit, said that the revenue department had already issued directions to all 14 district collectors to identify the movable and immovable properties of the respondents urgently. Further, a requisition authority has to be appointed to help the district collectors.
The revenue department informed the High Court that it was practically impossible to complete the above procedure within one month. What did Claims Commissioner Shargadharan and the Kerala government do all this while remains unknown.
Responding to the government’s stand, the court observed, “we find the attitude of the state government to be wholly unacceptable and per se disrespectful to the directions of this court. The state government cannot adopt such a callous attitude when called upon to implement the directions of this court, especially in matters of public interest and involving destruction of public property,” the court said.
The High Court extended the time granted for compliance with the earlier directions until 31 January. This order meant that the Kerala government’s conspiracy had provided breathing space to the PFI terrorists for another six weeks.
Meanwhile, gold smuggling using humans who carry it in their rectum goes on unhindered at a brisk pace. The mafia also uses teenagers, some as young as 16, to sell narcotics like MDMA in bulk. It is alleged that there is a mad scramble to launder the proceeds and arrange the payment of Rs. 5.20 cr. Those behind bars will be released by all means possible.
Since PFI’s inception in 2006, more than 1,400 criminal cases have been registered against the dreaded terror outfit. The extremist organization drew inspiration from the Muslim Brotherhood. Over the years, it had observed 30 August as ‘Solidarity Day.’ The Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, led by Mohammed Morsi, was ousted on that day in 2013.
PFI has formed district executive committees in countries like the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. “The India Fraternity Forum (IFF) and Indian Social Forum (ISF) were PFI’s overseas fronts to engage with expatriate Muslims and their Arab paymasters. Their executive committees were responsible for sending money to PFI operatives in Bharat without leaving any trail.
The arrest of top PFI terrorists revealed that many of them, like OMA Salam, were on the Kerala government payroll. He was on ‘leave,’ toured the world to countries like Syria, and arranged crores worth of funds for PFI’s terror activities. In their quest to allegedly help the PFI and delay proceedings, will the state government approach a higher court? Only time will tell.