Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday denied reports that his government had asked the Centre to ban the Popular Front of India, a Muslim organisation that is mostly active in Kerala and Karnataka.

“It is not the Kerala government’s duty to ban any communal outfit,” Vijayan told reporters at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram.

He was reacting to a report by The Hindu published on Thursday, that quoted Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju as saying, “Kerala has pressed for a ban on the PFI and we are examining the case.” Rijiju had reportedly said that Kerala Director General of Police Lokanath Behera had discussed the matter at the annual DGP conference held in Madhya Pradesh in January.

On Thursday, Vijayan said, “If any outfit that creates riots in India and divides society on communal lines needs to be banned, then it should be the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] first.”

Organisations like the PFI cannot be countered with a ban, he added. “The threats that such communal and terrorist organisations pose and their ideology cannot be obliterated through a ban,” he said. The only way to counter such organisations was to take strict legal action against them, he said, adding that the state government has cracked down on communalism and terrorism.

Director General of Police Behra also issued a statement on Thursday denying the reports on a proposed ban on the PFI. There was a presentation on the topic “Radicalization – PFI, A Case Study” in the DGP’s conference held in January 2018, at Tekanpur in Madhya Pradesh, he said, adding that it was prepared by a group of DGPs from a few states and was presented by him.

“In the presentation, there was neither a suggestion nor any recommendation to impose a ban on the Popular Front of India,” Behra said. “[The] Kerala Police have not proposed nor written for imposing such a ban on the PFI till date.”

In October 2017, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that his government would consider banning the Popular Front of India – a Muslim organisation that describes itself on its Facebook page as working for equal rights, freedom, justice and security for all Indians – if the National Investigative Agency came up with more evidence of anti-national activities against it.

A report in September claimed that the National Investigative Agency had asked for the group to be banned for its alleged involvement in four matters – chopping off a college professor’s hand in Kerala in 2010, organising arms training camps in the same state, murdering an RSS leader in Bengaluru, and planning to carry out terror attacks in South India.