Operation Conversion Mafia: Kerala's conversion factories unmasked
Operation Conversion Mafia: Kerala's conversion factories unmasked
The PFI, already under NIA investigation, is accused of brainwashing Hindu women and marrying them off to Muslim men.
In public, it proclaims to be a champion of diversity and equality. Kerala's Popular Front of India (PFI) has consistently denied accusations of religious conversions, hawala funding, murderous assaults and terror links.
But India Today has lifted the veil off the non-profit organisation, securing stunning confessions of its top functionaries about its mass proselytizing, illegal financing and about its ultimate goal to turn India into a theocratic Islamic state.
The PFI, already under NIA investigation, is accused of brainwashing Hindu women and marrying them off to Muslim men
"All these allegations are baseless," claimed Zainaba A.S., the head of the group's woman wing, on Monday, responding to accusations that she "mentored" non-Muslim women into conversions.
She is suspected of playing a key role in what has come to be known as Kerala's own love-jihad case -- the marriage between Hadiya, previously known by her Hindu name as Akhila Asokan, with Shafin Jahan.
In May, the state high court annulled their matrimony after the woman's father challenged it as an act of forcible conversion for terror recruitment.
The couple's appeal is now being heard by the supreme court.
"I contacted Hadiya only after she came to (the PFI's sister organisation) Sathya Sarani for admission. Actually, she embraced Islam two years before. In 2013, she embraced Islam," insisted Zainaba on Monday. "It's no love-jihad (but) an arranged marriage."
But before Zainaba issued this denial relating to one high-profile case, she had already shared the PFI's dark secrets with India Today's undercover reporters.
Herself a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, she was caught on tape how the Popular Front of India and its sister organization Sathya Sarani in Kerala's Manjeri carried out massive conversions.
"(In) That institute of ours... around 5,000 people have converted to Islam over the past 10 years now," Zainaba revealed. They, she admitted, included both Hindus and Christians.
Conversions, an emotive issue in Kerala, are banned in Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha if carried out through force or allurement. Recently, Jharkhand's assembly also passed an anti-conversion bill recently.
At their home in Malappuram, Zainaba and her husband, Ali, spoke candidly about their involvement in proselytising several non-Muslim women into Islam.
They didn't speak specifically about the Hadiya case though.
"We had a schoolteacher with us. She was an M.Sc. in mathematics and B.Ed," said Ali. "Now she's converted to Islam. She converted four years ago," added Zainaba.
"Did you proselytize her?" the reporter probed.
"Yes," confirmed the PFI's woman leader. "Four years ago."
The converted woman was previously called Shubha, Zainaba disclosed. "She's now Fatima." "How many non-Muslims have you proselytized?" the reporter asked.
"There are many," replied Zainaba.
She also explained the entire modus for proselytising, emphasising conversion centres have to disguised as charitable or educational establishments in order to prevent any backlash.
"We don't have to officially declare it to be a conversion centre. It's an educational institute," Zainaba admitted. "A lot of preparation goes into it. We need resources. We have to create a trust first."
She disclosed such secret centres have to have at least 15 members to qualify for registration as a trust.
"Later, we need to figure out a place for the campus. That campus should house all facilities, such as a mosque for namaz, accommodation, a well-furnished institute like this (Sathya Sarani)," Zainaba explained. "Then we have to get it registered by the government under the Societies Registration Act."
Further, Zainaba revealed how the PFI outsourced name-change certificates after converting inmates.
"There are two ways. Getting a certificate from some institutes that such and such person has embraced Islam. Then there's another system of having it notarized on a declared affidavit," she said.
In its dossier, accessed by India Today, the NIA has also accused the PFI of terror links and hawala financing, charges the group has denied vehemently.
But a founding member of the PFI, whom India Today reporters met in New Delhi under cover, admitted that the organization aimed at creating an Islamic state.
Ahmed Shareef, the PFI's founder member and the managing editor of its mouthpiece Gulf Thejas, also confessed to illegal funding.
"All over the world. That is the motive," Shareef acknowledged when asked whether the PFI and Sathya Sarani worked on a hidden motive to establish Islamic state in India as suspected. "All over the world. That is the motive."
"Islamic state is the final goal?" the reported probed.
"Final goal," Shareef replied. "All over the world. Why only India? After making India an Islamic state and then they will go to other states."
He also revealed how he raised funds for the PFI in the Middle East five years ago and sent them back home through hawala.
"At that time, (Rs) 10 lakh or something," Shareef said.
"Ten lakh? And how you sent it?" asked the reporter.
"Hawala," answered Shareef. He admitted both the PFI and Sathya Sarani received funding through mainstream as well as illegal hawala channels.
REACTION TO INDIA TODAY'S OPERATION CONVERSION FACTORY
Ravishankar Prasad says PFI should be banned and these leaders should be prosecuted.
"Your investigation shows that there is a PFI, the Popular Front of India, which is having an organised racket employing people who are owning it up on your channel that they are creating a radical group by some kind of psychological brainwashing," said law minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad.
"These NGOs that profess that they stand for peace, profanity stand exposed today at your channel. That's a great job you have done. My greetings and congratulation to you," said Prasad.
"I have to point out that unfortunately none of the reporting that has come out in the papers, one finds that they haven't caught the the gist of the argument which thankfully your channel seems to have through this entire exercise in a very very good manner caught," said BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli.
"These are glaring and extremely worrisome trends showing there is a well oiled machinery and psychological kidnappings as Mr Manindar Singh told the Court and as the investigation is revealing. This is not an ordinary case," said Kohli.
"Upper caste Hindus are harassing lower Caste Hindus, that's why they are converting to Islam for equality, justice and peace nowadays. ISI members were found in Madhya Pradesh. BJP should be banned for that and the parent organization RSS should be banned. Also follow the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel's footsteps who banned RSS once," said the media coordinator Islamic Research Foundation Ilyas Sharafuddin.
"If someone violates the law of the land he should be punished, Islam does not oppose that," said AIIA president Maulana Sajid Rashidi.
Meanwhile, NIA is monitoring India Today expose Operation Conversion Factory. The agency wants India Today to provide complete recording of investigation.