The Dark Night: The what, why, where, when & how about SDPI
Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) which is in the news in connection with inciting violence in parts of East Bengaluru on Tuesday night, traces its origin to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), says Prof. Mohyiuddin N Karassery, writer and activist from Kohzikode, Kerala.
Launched on June 21, 2009 in Delhi, SDPI is the political wing of the controversial Popular Front of India (PFI) which several intelligence agencies and the BJP term as a ‘terrorist outfit.’
On April 13, 2010, SDPI was registered as a
SDPI on its official website says that it is a cadre-based party that prepares members from ‘’grass roots to assume leadership to tackle social and political challenges.’’
More than its electoral campaigns, SDPI was in the news whenever there were violent protests – be it during the anti Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), or Padarayanapura violence and the Tuesday night arson in Bengaluru. PFI was accused of being involved in the murder of RSS worker Rudresh in Bengaluru besides inciting violence in the coastal region of the State.
Prof. Karassery says, “ SIMI believed in engineering an Islamic Revolution like in Iran. Like SIMI, PFI and SDPI believe in resisting the atrocities against Muslims, if required with arms,’’ he said adding that it is only recently that SDPI is talking about democratic process, otherwise they never believed in democracy.
‘’That is a propaganda by the BJP and the RSS,” says Tasleem Ahamed Rehmani, National Secretary of the SDPI and president of the Muslim Political Council, Delhi.
He accuses the State government of using violence to consolidate its base ahead of the BBMP elections besides diverting attention from the Rs 2,000 crore covid-19 scam in Bengaluru.
Karnataka Tourism Minister CT Ravi says that it is an open secret that SDPI is a fear mongering and divisive outfit whose main agenda is inciting violence using Islamic fundamental ideology.
PFI, the parent organisation of SDPI, was formed by merging three different organisations – Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD), National Development Front (NDF) in Kerala and Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP) in Tamil Nadu on November 22, 2006.
Some of the founders of PFI include E Abubacker and Prof P Koya who were also the founding members of SIMI in 1977 in Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh.
NDF got a firm footing in the Malabar region after the Islamic Sevak Sangh was banned in 1992 after the Babri Masjid demolition. After NDF was banned in 1994, PFI was formed.
One of NDF’s agenda was to adhere to the Dawa (missionary work) and work for welfare of the minorities with a focus on Kerala Muslims.
Prof. Karassery says that SIMI became NDF and later PFI and SDFI.
“SIMI of those days (1977) and the SIMI which was banned in 2001 were two different outfits. SIMI in the 1990’s was a radical outfit,’’ says Rehmani dismissing theories that SDPI is a new avatar of the banned SIMI. SIMI is the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), a pre-independence organisation, which was founded in 1941. SIMI, formed in 1977, severed ties with JIH and turned militant in two years, says Prof Karassery. The Central government banned SIMI post 9/11 terror attacks. In 2019, the ban was extended by another five years.
CT Ravi alleges that PFI and SDPI are new fronts of SIMI. ‘’Look at the people who are behind these and it becomes clear,’’ he said.
Rehmani, however, says that many groups from Southern States had come together to form NDF. “SIMI was not banned in those days. ubsequently, NDF was banned by Kerala government after which the PFI was formed,’’ he said.
Rehmani says that the SDPI doesn’t believe in violence and like any other political party in India, they are law-abiding and uphold the constitution of India.
He said that despite several attempts by RSS and the BJP to project SDPI as a terror organisation, the party has been given a clean chit by investigating agencies and police in several States.
‘’The BJP and the RSS are using us as the face of hatred, to show the Hindu masses or to their Bhakts that these are the Muslims and they are a threat to the Hindutva movement. Every now and then they use the media to focus on us. Earlier they used to name Jaamat – e – Islam Hind which was never a radical outfit. Now they name us,” Rehmani pointed.
Prof Karassery says that SDPI has no stable political stand. ‘’In Kerala, they have aligned with the UDF and LDF. They praise Osama Bin Laden. They believe in Jamaat-e-Islam founder Abul ala Maududi’s hukumat-e-ilahia or the Allah’s Kingdom,’’ he said.
BJP backing SDPI?
‘’Like RSS, PFI also claims that they are cultural organisation. But everyone knows who they are what their intention is,’’ Prof. Karassery said.
The Congress, however, says that there is more to this than meets the eye. The party has time and again accused the BJP of propping up PFI and SDPI with a plan to weaken secular parties and pursue its divisive and hate politics.
‘’Why has the BJP government not banned it even one year after being in power in Karnataka?,’’ asked the former home minister Ramalinga Reddy, accusing the two of being hand in glove.
Rehmani, however, denies the charge and says that SDPI is caught between the between the Congress and BJP.
“We are hardcore opponents of BJP. This is the truth,” he said.
“On the other side, secular parties think we are taking away their vote base. But their biggest threat is hardcore Hindutva. After August 5 (Bhoomi Pooja at Ayodhya), every secular party is trapped and resorted to the same politics. They fear that 80 per cent of Hindu votes might go to the BJP. The left over Muslim votes will also be going to SDPI,’’ is their worry, he argues.
CT Ravi dismissed the charge of promoting SDPI and PFI. ‘’Why would we promote an anti-national force? They are a threat to the country and the BJP would never join hands with such elements,’’ he said and accused the Congress of indulging in appeasement politics by backing SDPI and PFI.