“We have seen the consequences of the politics of the PFI in States such as Kerala, and the kind of violence it breeds.. We see the same organisations now spreading their tentacles to neighbouring coastal Karnataka. It is the areas in Kannur-Malappuram-Kozhikode belt that have a strong presence of PFI and SDPI, from where we have seen youth leaving to join terrorist groups such as ISIS in the past. It is a clear warning that governments both at the centre and state levels, must take a strong view of these outfits,” he told ET.
PFI and its political arm SDPI and their affiliates such as Campus Front of India have been accused of supporting Muslim women’s protests over their right to wear a hijab in a recent ongoing controversy in Karnataka, and even for sponsoring anti-CAA riots in Delhi, and instigating communal violence in Uttar Pradesh in the recent past.
Last year, the Centre told the Supreme Court that it was in the process of banning the PFI, but the government is yet to take a call on it. The PFI however has denied all the allegations and has maintained that it is being vilified.
The hijab row in Karnataka that started with Muslim female students protesting against three junior colleges in Karnataka banning their entry in hijab should have been handled in more appropriate manner, without making it a “war of religions” that it has become now, Ram Madhav said. “A matter between students and college administration should not have been allowed to become an inter-religious conflict… It acquired a scale that is appalling.. We should be infact helping Muslim women counter such orthodox practices in religion,” he said.
Last week, Karnataka High Court finished hearing a batch of petitions challenging the ban on hijabs in some colleges. The matter was heard by a three-judge bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi.
Calling it an “intra-religious” matter that escalated, and assumed a form of “inter-religious” conflict, Ram Madhav said the fallout of the controversy can be dire not only in the Muslim community, but in the larger Indian society. “We are seeing students wearing saffron scarves pitted against students in hijabs. This is what happens when one doesn’t work on reform. One form of fundamentalism breeds another. The murder of a Bajrang Dal worker in Shivmogga is a clear warning where this is heading,” he added.
He added that as far as educational institutions are concerned, “one has to abide by general rules and disciplinary obligations, regardless of what religion one followed.
“Arguing that the burqa or the hijab is not a religious obligation in most countries in the world, he said, adding, “In the Arab world that was once known for its most literal and strictest interpretation of Wahabi islam, we see many Muslim countries liberalising their religious traditions and choosing a more humanist form of Islam… Even Saudi Arabia that was once known as the mothership of Wahabism today has a crown prince bringing in more liberties to women in terms of driving rights and clothing… But here in pockets we have groups such as the PFI promoting a more regressive and medieval form of Islam in India which is not good for the country or its people,” he added.