Islamic radicals have pan-India reach and operate across dozens of fronts in 23 states
India has been fighting against radicalized and extremist groups since independence. They claim to defend the interests of Kashmiris, Muslims, Sikhs, Assamese, Naxals, Manipuris, Tripuris, Nagas, Bodos and Garos but are in fact fighting for independence, establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat or converting India into Dar-al-Islam (Islamic land). At present, 79 of them are proscribed, 107 are talking to the government or observing the ceasefire and 76 are still active.
But there is a difference. Islamic radicals have reached Pan-India and operate through thousands of sleeper cells and dozens of fronts in 23 states. Other outfits are confined to small areas and therefore can be confined.
The growth of Islamic radicals has been quite phenomenal, especially over the past two decades in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The most prominent group is the Kerala-based PFI (People’s Front of India), joined by MNP (Manitha Neethi Pasarai), Thowheed Jamath of Tamil Nadu and KFD (Karnataka Forum for Dignity). Its mask for political activities is the SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) and for the students it is the CFI (Campus Front of India) to organize the demonstrations.
The brazenness of PFI’s operations is such that its footprints can easily be found in almost any violent incident of a religious nature, be it anti-CAA protests, communal riots in Delhi and Kanpur, of pro-hijab rallies in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu. , Goa and Maharashtra, are protesting Azan volume or trying to ban conversion. Other radical groups like Al Ummah (Tamil Nadu), Deendar Anjuman (Hyderabad), Indian Mujahedeen and AQIS (Al Qaeda Indian Sub-continent operating from Karnataka and Kerala) also maintain close ties with PFI. Most of them are also aligned with foreign terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and Al-Qaeda.
What is disturbing is the success of PFI and others in enlisting large numbers of Muslims among uneducated, semi-educated men and women, young self-employed and unemployed young boys and girls in name of islam protection. The indoctrination of these crude minds takes place mainly in madrassas and mosques where the volunteers are constantly tricked into believing that their religion and its practices are under threat and that they must take the path of jihad to prevent it. Social media platforms, messaging services and videos are also used to continue to anchor this fear in their minds and prepare them to fight back. Those identified as particularly insiders receive training in weapons, bomb-making and apprenticeship techniques for carrying out terrorist operations in Pakistan and at institutes that ostensibly seek to empower Muslims politically, financially and gain professional skills. It is quite natural that people trained in this medium should only act as killers of a tailor in Udaipur and a medical trader in Amravati.
It is misleading to assume that the radicals are confined to a small part of the Muslim community. The majority of Muslims may not be vocal and act like jihadists, but their moral and logistical support rests on them. The few people who openly disagree don’t really count. Then there are journalists, political commentators, artists, professors and social/human rights activists, posing as left-liberals who lend intellectual legitimacy to their cause and create a narrative that draws support financial and supposedly principled from suspicious sources in Europe, the United States and Muslim nations.
Political opponents are also not far from providing Islamic radicals with cover to continue their propaganda against Hindus, as it serves their electoral interests. One such propaganda is that the massive radicalization of Hindus is taking place to create a nation largely for themselves in which others will have fewer rights. Chidambaram smells of “saffron terrorism” in this fictional belief and continues to shout about it to deflect attention from accusations that his party is practicing a blatant policy of appeasement. Surely he knows that Hindu children are not taught divisive religious texts in temples or schools and that there is no faith for them to uphold. However, fringe groups also exist among Hindus who sometimes take the law into their own hands, but their number is less than 0.2%.
The prospects do not look bright for the security interests of this rebellious country.
(Amar Bhushan worked with the Research and Analysis Wing for 24 years after briefly serving in BSF Intelligence, the State Special Branch and the Intelligence Bureau. He served as Special Secretary in the Secretariat of the Cabinet before retiring in 2005.)
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