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Press Release on PFI Ban in Jharkhand

Y. J. Rajendra President

Venkataraju, General Secretary

R. V. Chandrashekar, Treasurer

PUCL Karnataka

Popular Front of India (PFI) is an organization of citizens of India. Members of PFI are guaranteed their right to freedom of expression and association under Constitution of India. PFI has units in all states. The state and central governments have the responsibility to protect their rights and respond to their demands, rather than silencing their voices. Unfortunately, in a complete abdication of its duty to protect and uphold fundamental rights of all citizens, Jharkhand state government has banned PFI, alleging some of its members influenced by ISIS. It is an unfortunate development and unconstitutional action, and there is no evidence suggesting that PFI itself identifies with or condones the activities of ISIS in any manner whatsoever. PUCL Karnataka condemns banning state Jharkhand PFI unit.

The state should have identified such members associated with ISIS and initiated legal action against them, instead of banning PFI as an organisation. It is evident that the banning of the organisation is entirely communally and politically motivated and biased.PFI has been a large organization with thousands of members from minorities and other weaker sections of the society. They have been engaged in mobilizing and educating communities on their rights and entitlements, promoting literacy, education and demanding their share of resources in health services, education, employment, welfare and social security as matter of right guaranteed by constitution of India.

PFI has in recent times been particularly active in seeking justice for communal atrocities through legal interventions. This begs the

question of whether there is anything wrong with highlighting lynchings that took place in Jamtara, Latehar, Ramgarh and Seraikela. What is wrong in filing case against police atrocities? What is wrong in demanding justice and compensation to the victim families? The impunity of the majority community in cases of lynching is supported by the police, and PFI has been working tirelessly to expose this nexus. PFI has been raising such issues as human rights violation and demanding action through rallies and protests without any violence. Any action against PFI reeks of state high- handedness, and its tacit support for perpetrators of communal violence. Hence, the ban on Jharkhand PFI is illegal, unconstitutional, and constitutes violation of freedom of expression and freedom of association. It is an organized attempt by the ruling BJP government to misuse the constitutional systems and structures.

Therefore, it is time for Governor as constitutional head of the state of Jharkhand to protect the fundamental rights and democratic rights of minorities living in the state. Thus PUCL – Karnataka urges the Honorable Governor of the Jharkhand to revoke the ban on PFI in the state.

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