The Indian government's ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) is "undemocratic" and "anti-constitutional" and will be challenged in the Supreme Court, the Campus Front of India – the PFI's students' wing – said Wednesday afternoon, hours after a five-year ban came into effect.
The CFI said it had been "working for over a decade among students across the country with a vision of building socially concerned and responsible youths with (a) secular and democratic spirit".
"(We) reject all allegations against the CFI in connection with the PFI as baseless and fabricated," the students' body tweeted, "CFI has maintained constitutional and democratic values and not promoted activities against our law... as an organisation (we), in accordance with the law... will be stopping all activities in India with immediate effect."
The CFI also called on all students associated with it to "not conduct any programme or activity..." and distance itself from individuals or events "using the name or banner of the org(anisation)…"
On Wednesday morning, union home minister Amit Shah ordered the PFI and associate groups as "unlawful associations" and banned them for five years.
The government later also ordered the blocking of the Popular Front's websites and social media accounts, as well as those of its affiliates.
Apart from the CFI, now-banned organisations include the Rehab India Foundation, the All India Imams Council, and the National Women's Front.
The notification was issued after raids on PFI leaders and offices by the National Investigation Agency, the Enforcement Directorate and police in 14 states.
The government said evidence from the raids indicated the PFI– a "major threat" to India's internal security– is involved in criminal and terror cases, shows "sheer disrespect towards the constitutional authority", and is funded from outside.
It also linked the PFI to acts like "chopping off the hand of a college professor in Kerala" and killing people associated with groups espousing other faiths.
The ministry also said three states – BJP-ruled Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat – had recommended the ban.
The chief ministers of all three (and other BJP states) hailed the ban.
UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath called it a sign of "a new India" and Karnataka's Basavaraj Bommai said it was a warning to "all anti-national groups". The Maharashtra and Assam CMs also responded positively.
The opposition has welcomed the ban but has also called for similar action against others seen to be spreading a communal agenda, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – the ideological mentor of the BJP.
*The original headline has been modified