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Radicalisation, isolation of Muslim youth


The moot question in the sweep of Islamist radicalisation and barbarism across the world and in India is how to disengage this ill-wind from the Muslim community. In Indian context, can radicalisation be prevented

In the present context of movements within the Muslim community in India to compartmentalise itself from other religious groups, communities and even educationally, historically and culturally, the courage of Sartaj Khan, the father of the Tuesday’s train bombing suspect Saifulla, in refusing to receive the body of the terrorist for his anti-national act, needs commendation.

Not mere statements saying Islam is a religion of peace, but such demonstrative action against those who indulge in terrorism will discourage those young men and women of the Muslim community, who get lured by movements like the Islamic State (IS) and the Al Qaeda Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) etc.

The core question in the sweep of Islamist radicalisation and barbarism across the world and its tail end in India too is how to disengage this ill-wind from the Muslim community. Right after the Ujjain-bound train incident, the police and security forces in the country are divided over the origin and sustaining of such radicalism-inspired violence, for which, the young among the community have begun to fall like nine pins.

In Kerala, several young Muslims lure girls from other communities, convert them and marry them and over a few months, both escape to Syria via Colombo and Kabul or Kathmandu and Kabul and that is the last that their parents hear about them. One such parent even personally met Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to plead for his help in tracing her daughter.

The event got wide publicity and brought out more such parents stuck by this well-planned tragedy. Events like this elsewhere in the country have exposed the long trail from Hyderabad to Mosul via Kashmir and Kabul or Dubai to IS held territories.

The security establishment is right now finding out why this continues to happen even though the IS has been considerably handicapped by the losses its forces are suffering in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere at its source. The anti-terrorism group at the centre is challenging the State police version from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh that the perpetrators of the Ujjain train blasts were extensions of IS network spread within India.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) apparently is holding on to the view that these events are individual groups springing out of the IS poison being measured out though social networks like Facebook. The loss of its headquarter at Mosul in Iraq has not weakened its propaganda network and its media, though it is quite clear that the attack on the IS under international auspices with American experts leading the international forces, would, within a year would end this menace.

Anti-terrorism experts are warning that even if IS is subdued, the radical Islamist idea will not die down. Partly this is because much visual material has been pushed into the social network that shows Islam as the ultimate victor taking its stand on its holy literature.

Radical clerics are trained and sent across to Western countries and non-Islamic contries like India to radicalise community men there and make them sympathetic to the inevitability of Islamisation of entire humanity which being a religious necessity. Jihad, in all its violence, is a matter of command not one of choice.

For instance, the Supreme Court here taking up the issue of triple talaq on a public interest litigation petition by some Muslim women victims of this violation of human rights, is used in this country as a attack on the constitutional rights of Muslim community. The sheer necessity for the election officials to check the identity of a woman voter is being recast as against the religious injunction.

The way young Muslims in Europe leave prospects of study and job and join radical Islamic movements, indicate the depth to which radical thoughts have penetrated into the Muslim communities most of them migrants from French Northern African countries like Algeria, Libya. There is not much hope that the community could fight off within the call for brutal killings in the name of their religion.

Is radicalisation of Muslim youth a revolt against society? Is it an uprising of Muslim community, “a victim of poverty and  discrimination against it by non Muslims”, as some of our ‘secular’ politicians like Congress leader Digvijay Singh will like us to believe?

Security experts, however, disagree and point out that mostly young people are joining in this wave, including converts, who did not share in the sufferings of Muslims in Europe or in their ancestral countries. Last Thursday, Mohammad Gaus Khan, a resident of Anwarganj in Kanpur was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh anti-terrorism squad for his alleged links to members of a group held earlier for explosion on the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train. Khan described as the “motivator” of group by the police, had taken voluntary retirement from the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 1993. He had served IAF as a corporal.

In our context, can radicalisation be prevented? May be if the community itself takes some basic steps. The most important is to end the isolationism of the madarssas. In these institutions, only Muslim boys and girls meet people from their own communities. On the other hand, in all other schools — even private institutions — students from different religions, communities, mingle sit on the same bench and study the same secular lessons.

With school authorities keeping the texts in these institutions under a lynx eye for any hate material, it is most likely that they get a broader understanding of the country they live in. That is not the case in the Muslims only schools, known as madarssas. The UPA Government, unfortunately, made the rule that these madarssas need only to teach science and mathematics additional to religious instruction to get the same status as the other schools.

The question is not one of science and history teaching. The inter-mingling of students from different backgrounds is important equally to enable the students to cultivate broader view and liberal outlook as basic condition of citizenship of a secular liberal country.

Instead of such broader view, the Muslim community in this country is letting itself more and more being ushed into a shell. The radicals are telling Muslim public figures not to participate in lighting of brass lamps that is the common cultural practice at all public functions — only Muslims do not participate, all other communities gladly join in lamp lighting.

In spite of several Muslims being at the top of the arts scene — films, music, painting etc — the clerics have advised their folk not to get into such functions. Step by step the community gets into a insulatory attitude. It is its undoing. If this process continues unchecked it won’t be surprising movements like the IS and Al Qaeda will germinate out of such isolation.

By Balbir Punj

(The writer is a former Rajya Sabha MP from BJP and a Delhi-based political and social analyst)

Courtesy: The Pioneer