New Delhi, December 15 With the news of their regrouping under the name of “Popular Front of India” already out, activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India are now planning a new front for themselves in northern India.
“In the south, the banned organisation will continue under the banner of PFI but in the north we propose to have a different name for ourselves,” said a former activist of the banned outfit.
The news of Simi re-emerging under the banner of Popular Front of India appeared in the national newspapers two days ago but the organisation had reportedly become functional in 2008 when Simi leaders felt there was an urgent need to keep the flock together.
Intelligence sleuths in Uttar Pradesh claim that Simi now wants to diversify its activities by using separate identities in north and south India.
“The banned group has established links with terrorist organisations like the Indian Mujahideen and the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and often acts as a cover for these terror groups, providing them with logistics and local support. The recruits are mostly young men in their twenties and cannot be identified easily as suspects. We have received definite information that Simi is developing a new identity for the north which has so far been kept a closely guarded secret, but we are working on it,” said a UP anti-terrorist squad on Tuesday (December 14, 2010).
The ATS, sources added, is keeping a close vigil on the “friends of Simi” (those known to be sympathetic to its ideology) and are trying to zero in on the new organisation. It may be recalled that Simi was first banned in 2001 when it was reported that the outfit was involved in subversive activities.
Founded in Aligarh on April 25, 1977 as a students’ organisation, designed to follow and propagate the path set by the Quran, Simi first attracted national attention when criminal cases against its activists began to surface in 1998. Volatile speeches delivered by its state leaders in UP further established its suspected terror linkages.
Simi was under the scanner for possible connections with Pakistani terror groups. In 2001, in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks on the United States, the Indian government banned Simi on September 27 that year under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 for two years. The ban was subsequently renewed thrice. The ban on Simi was once again extended in February this year for a period of two years, so it is in effect till February 2012.