Radicalization, Terrorism and Community Engagement in India - II


It is significant to look into the background of the accused persons who have involvement in terror attacks and certain events at national and international level. The plight of the Palestinians, Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, American invasion of Iraq, American incursion in Afghanistan, Danish cartoon controversy etc at international level and internally, incidents like communal riots across Maharashtra in the summer of 1984 and brutal anti-Muslim violence in 1986, demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, Gujarat riots in 2002 and rejection of visas by United States Embassy to qualified Muslims may be so called grievances among the Muslim youth. It is logical that radicalization is frequently driven by personal concerns at the national level in addition to annoyance with international events. Indian Government has to counter the path pursued by these educated terrorists through dialogue and open ideological discourse.

Constructive dialogue be really useful and promote authentic and genuine understanding about one’s own faith while understanding and respecting others faith. Dialogue plays incredibly vital role in a diverse and multi-religious society like India. Such attempt could be achieved by seeking the help of prominent social activists. As well, Indian government may possibly utilize the services of persons like famous film stars like Amir Khan who has a dimension of social justice and secular persons working for the communal harmony like Asgar Ali Engineer, Centre for Society and Secularism Studies etc. to reach out to Muslim communities.

To give a clear and coherent interpretation of religion and to challenge extremist ideologies, institutions at intellectual level are advantageous. Darul Ulum Deoband and the Jami’at-ul-Ulama-i-Hind are publicly challenging the extremist religious ideology through fatwas, publications and rallies. Darul Ulum Deoband and the Jami’at-ul-Ulama-i-Hind have clearly and strongly condemned ‘jihadism’ of Muslim extremists and militants. The national anti-terror fatwa of Deoband and Jamiat in 2008 have sent a very clear message to Muslim masses in India not to support directly or indirectly such killings by invoking religious doctrine much misunderstood and corrupted in political sphere. Deoband, an important Islamic institution, has always played important role in Indian Islam reflected in issuing a series of sensible and sagacious fatwas. To respect the sentiments of Hindus in connection with a controversy arose about cow slaughter, especially on Baqar Eid day when Muslims sacrifice animals, Deoband issued a fatwa that it is not obligatory on Muslims to sacrifice cow and Muslims must avoid sacrificing cow on the day of Baqar Eid. In similar vein, when Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) demanded that Darul Ulum declare India to be Darul Aman, Maulana Mahmood Madani declared India Darul Aman. In response to such appraisals Indian government ought to initiate activities by strengthening the role of such institutions and leaders which would bring harmony between Hindus and Muslims and avoid home grown terrorism.

Indian government must initiate a promising CEP to reintegrate the cadres of outfits like IM, SIMI which are breeding the homegrown terrorists, into main stream Indian society. India government should focus on some important areas, which are usual suspicious places like Araria, Azamgarh, Bhatkal, Chennai, Madhubani, Old Delhi, Old Hyderabad, Pune, Sitamarhi and Udupi. In such places or hide outs of terrorists Indian government should introduce ‘surrender and rehabilitation policy’, and it must undertake a plan to counsel the detainees and family members of detainees, and also assist in rehabilitating these families. The formation of such policies will help to construct a close cooperation between the Indian government and the Muslim community in countering the terrorism. It would lead to the establishment of a working relation between security personnel and the Muslim community. Such a community engagement exercise assists in receipt of intelligence information to check out the inclination and affinity of home grown terrorism. The government must make use of the secular, patriotic and intelligent Muslim youth and some of the educated activists from IM and SIMI who have been captured and arrested have to be convinced and they can be used as human intelligence (HUMINT) to penetrate into terrorist outfits. They can be planted in the terrorist organization to gather reliable and accurate information on terror activities.

The ‘surrender and rehabilitation policy’ and involving Muslims in HUMINT is very difficult. According to Intelligence Bureau (IB), the jihadists belong to Sunni Muslims owing allegiance to Wahhabi and Salafi ideologies. For that reason, IB has very limited access to the Muslim community and despite best efforts it has not been possible to attract Muslim candidates to the progressive level of the IB. However, the activities of Indian government be supposed to be planned to win the “hearts and minds” in such a way to influence their beliefs, behavior, attitude and opinion en route for the success of the task undertaken by security agencies implicated in the war on terrorism. Indian Muslim society in such circumstances can play a crucial role by providing a platform to raise religious, economic and political grievances and to facilitate debate and dialogue.

Indian Muslims are the target audience of homegrown terrorists. Spreading fear in them by killing the Hindus through bomb blasts to exploit fear by making conflicts between Hindus and Muslims is the fundamental nature of homegrown terrorism. However, not only Hindus but also Muslims were victims in many blasts, which are often one of the best positioned actors to counter homegrown terrorism and their role in this respect. Indian government should consider the importance of the victims of Muslim community and their role in countering violent homegrown terrorism through a CEP in empowering victims and survivors of terrorism belonging to Muslim community.

India can benefit greatly by a CEP which can play a central role in numerous ways, through its work in conflict transformation and working on economic and social development programmes. It is the precise moment of time to take drastic steps immediately to integrate and to handle fear of terrorism and reduce its negative consequences by promoting resilience and a fear management approach to counter terrorism. The extremism or home grown terrorism has not engulfed India as it has in some other countries like Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Author Note
This is the second and final part of the article. Dr. R. Bhanu Krishna Kiran is an independent researcher on International Law & Strategic Affairs.