The Kerala CM has accused Popular Front of India leader Nasarudeen Elamaram of Islamising the state. Shahina KK grills the PFI boss on the controversy
Your response to Chief Minister Achuthanandan’s claim that PFI’s agenda is to turn Kerala into a Muslim majority state?
There is a clear shift in the Left’s politics. They are now playing the Hindutva card. They know that minority communities are shifting away from them. The parting with the Kerala Congress and the growing displeasure within the Church has already eroded their hold in the Christian belt. The Indian National League is on the verge of parting with the Left. Abdul Nasar Madani is soon to be arrested. That’s why the CPM is banking on Hindu votes. It explains the targeting of the PFI.
The PFI’S involvement in the chopping of the professor’s hand is becoming clearer. What’s your defence?
We are waiting for the investigation to be over. PFI holds the view that it was an emotional reaction by a group. We never support such brutal acts of violence and strongly condemn this act. At the same time, one should understand the circumstances that lead to such unfortunate incidents. The anti-Muslim sentiment is growing in Kerala. The banning of head scarves in schools, the book on Prophet Mohammed, the police firing in Cheriyathura in Thiruvanathapuram (in which six Muslim fishermen were killed), are indicators of this growing trend of intolerance. I repeat, I am not justifying the brutal action of hand-chopping. I want you to see the other side of the story..
Has any action been taken against PFI members allegedly involved in the incident?
Have they been expelled? It is true the police have taken several PFI activists and sympathisers into custody. We cannot take action against all of them. Besides, we assume Central intelligence has some vested interest in the moves against PFI. The Intelligence Bureau is consistently involved in widening the divide between Muslim groups, and it is trying to inject pseudo-spiritualist and fundamentalist ideas into the community.
What about the inflammatory CDs, leaflets and books seized by the police from your offices?
PFI has published 45 books. All of them are available in the market. You can’t find a single line in any of them that flares up communal divide, or anti-national sentiments. We have documented public programmes and the annual freedom parade conducted by PFI. The CDs also contain documentaries on the Gujarat genocide. Media reports of police having seized CDs of Taliban violence are rumours. We don’t have any such CDs. None of the PFI leaders have been booked under 153A for inflammatory speech, since the organisation’s birth. When six Muslims died in police firing in Cheriyathura last year, there was high tolerance from Muslims on display. PFI played a crucial role in ensuring peace in the area.
What is the PFI’S source of funds?
Nobody asks any other party, including the CPM and Congress, about their source of money. Anyway, we have nothing to hide in this regard. We present the budget and organisational report in the general council meeting, once in a couple of years. The intelligence wing collects these reports regularly. They also monitor the bank deals of the organisation. They take the monthly statement from our bank and we don’t oppose that. As a policy, the PFI does not take foreign funds. We also strongly discourage members from being carriers of hawala money, which is common in Malabar. We have monthly levy system for members. I pay Rs 70 every month. We have almost 30,000 members.