National Development Front
The National Development Front (NDF) was a Muslim organisation set up in Kerala. It was established in India in 1993 and merged with Popular Front of India in 2006 and stated that its objective was to "focus on socio-enonomical issues of minorities giving a focus to Kerala Muslims in Kerala".
NDF announced a plan to adhere to the dawa (missionary work) of aggressively propagating Islam among other communities. P. Koya, NDF supreme council member, wrote an article in Thejas, the organisation's magazine, magazine, that "many Muslim organisations hold the view that dawa work is fundamental to Muslims. But the same organisations pay scant attention to the work".
Their slogan is Swathantryam – Neethi – Surakrsha which means Freedom, Justice and Security. In 1997 it stood behind the formation of the Confederation of Human Rights Organizations.
Inspired by pan-Islamic reactionary movements across the country after 1992, the NDF gained a firm footing in the Malabar region after the proscription of the Islamic Sevak Sangh (ISS) organisation. Kerala police alleged that the National Development Front (NDF) is another re-incarnation of the ISS.
The National Development Front has 19 Supreme Council members. Among them is Prof P. Koya who was also one of the founding members of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
NDF and human rights movements
In 1997 NDF conducted the National Human Rights Conference in Kozhikode. Many human rights activists and NDF activists participated. Based on discussions and understanding, a new organisation was formed called Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (CHRO).
NDF worked closely with journalists associated with Thejas Mukundan C Menon and the CHRO, who is closely tied to Human Rights Watch International. The organisation decided to expand its activities "for the oppressed and the minorities to the rest of the country". They conducted different movements, demonstrations, rallies and other democratic strikes to:
- Defend human rights atrocities from police, military, government- and non-governmental agencies.
- Fight for special recruitments for jobs and educational posts where they were denied seats according to the governmental rules.
- Implement reservation and allowances for the backward communities (OBC) to bring them up to the level of mainstream society.
- Enforce the rights of OBC minorities by forcing the government and its agencies to help the downtrodden in Indian society.
Along with other organisations, NDF was actively involved in helping tsunami victims of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They rehabilitated many tsunami victims by providing necessities and shelter. The main focus was to obtain the basic necessities of drinking water and food for the victims.
Empower India Conference and Popular Front
NDF is in coalition with Popular Front of India and co-operated in the Empower India Conference, which was held at Bangalore in February 2007. Popular Front of India is an organisation with an agenda to bring the underprivileged and the marginalised sections like minority communities to come together on one platform. The conference was intended to motivate the underprivileged and marginalised sections like minority communities to work for human rights and social justice.
The NDF was accused of being a communal outfit and members of the organisation were implicated in violent incidents such as the 2002 Marad massacre. The Thomas P Joseph Commission report found that "activists of IUML and NDF, a Muslim outfit, were actively involved in the massacre". The State secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, said that NDF was involved in the Marad massacre and referred to them as a "terrorist outfit" that executed a "planned mass murder". NDF was blamed for inciting violence against moderate Muslims in Kerala who are in opposition to liberal and reformist Islamic movements and individuals. The "involvement of fundamentalists and terrorists" was behind the incident.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) put forward allegations that NDF maintains links with Pakistan's ISI. The Bharatiya Janata Party sought an inquiry into NDF-ISI links. The Indian National Congress (who are politically opposed to the BJP) raised doubts about the true nature of their activities. On 31 October 2006, the Congress launched a campaign against terrorism in Malappuram district in Kerala, simultaneously taking on parties and organisations such as the IUML, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the NDF, and the People's Democratic Party (PDP).
Ms Neera Rawat IPS, Senior Superintendent of Police, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, was deposed before the Marad Judicial Inquiry Commission of Justice Thomas P. Joseph. Her tenure as Kozhikode City Police Commissioner was from 22 March 1997 to 16 May 1999. She told the Inquiry Commission that the police had prepared confidential and authentic reports that ISI and Iran were fund sponsors of the NDF.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Special Branch, Ernakulam, A.V. George, who was deposed before the Marad inquiry panel on 29 October 2005, said that a key witness in an illegal arms possession case had given a statement to the police during its investigation that the NDF had been receiving crores of rupees from foreign countries to carry out its training programmes. ACP George quoted the testimony made by arrested NDF cadres that the NDF had been sending people to Pakistan for the last several years.
Kottakkal Police station attack
Police accused that NDF activists attacked the Kottakkal police station at Kottakkal in Malappuram district in the early hours of 23 March 2007 following the arrest of two senior leaders of the front. The attack was repulsed by the Police and 27 activists were placed in custody.
Frontline magazine quoted a senior police officer who said that the NDF had successfully exploited the sense of insecurity created in the Muslim community by events that followed the Babri Masjid demolition to find supporters in northern Kerala, irrespective of their political or other allegiances. The report adds: "Initially, no NDF member used to acknowledge openly that he was an NDF member. Always they would say that they were members of other organisations. The truth may be that members of several organisations were members of the NDF also. Now the NDF has several wings and is making a major effort to project itself as a socio-cultural organisation of Muslims."
Pakistan MPs visit row
Pakistan MP Mohammed Thaha Mohammed's visit to Thalassery on 29 April 2007 sparked a controversy, with activists of the BJP and other Sangh Parivar groups staging a march to the hotel where Mohammed was staying. They claimed that leaders of a few Muslim organisations, including the NDF, were seen visiting the MP. Mohammed Thaha Mohammed represents Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal in Pakistan's parliament.
University of Haifa political scientist David Bukay lists the NDF as a "fundamentalist and subversive group". After the 11 July 2006 Mumbai Train Bombings, the NDF, along with other Islamist organisations, was closely monitored by authorities for terrorist links. The organisation attracted numerous Islamic Fundamentalists to their ranks, and are compared to several more well-known militant Islamist groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, and others.
Implementation of religious code
The NDF is alleged to be involved in efforts to push the Islamic Sharia code among the moderate and cosmopolitan Muslim society in Kerala, an act viewed by moderate Muslims and secularists as "Talibanization". NDF was accused of targeting liberals in the community – those who do not strictly follow Islamic laws like abstaining from liquor, fasting during Ramadan, and wearing the makhna or purdah. Fakir Uppappa or Siddhan was killed in June for indulging in "un-Islamic spiritualism".
A Muslim was murdered in Punalur for binding with Leftist organisation [DYFI]. Media reports about the killing of CPI(M)'s Ashraf in Punalur in Kollam district points towards this.
NDF's response to criticisms
The NDF denied involvement in the Marad massacre. It alleged that the perpetrators arrested for the acts were not members of their organisation and blamed the incident on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and other "Fascist Hindus". They made veiled threats implying that there would "be trouble" if "innocent Muslims were persecuted by the police". They declared that they "welcomed the CBI investigation" into the Marad riots.
- "Media persons have been misled by Intelligence authorities to believe that the NDF was a militant organisation. They had said the same thing about Congress during the freedom struggle."
The NDF conducted Parades with the slogan "Be the sentinel of freedom" in major cities of Kerala in 2004, 2005, and in 2006. The parades became one of the regular activities on the Indian Independence Day.
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