The arrest of five youths from the old city area of Hyderabad for their alleged connection with the Islamic State, has once again raised the concern about the perceived vulnerability of misguided Muslim youth to get trapped by global terrorist organisations. Earlier, 11 people were detained and six people were released after initial investigations and five were arrested. National Investigation Agency (NIA) claims that they were being directed from the Middle East by Islamic State for carrying out terror plots in India.
Earlier too, a few youths from the city were arrested for their alleged connection with the Islamic State.
The parents of the youths and civil liberties groups deny the allegations. The Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee, a group in the city working for human rights has "strongly condemned the arrest of Muslim youth of Hyderabad" and said in its statement, "It seems that once again terror has struck the lives of Muslims of Hyderabad in the form of joint operation by NIA and Task Force police of Hyderabad. The stories released by police through media are unbelievable and unimaginable. It has become the practice of state to target the Hyderabadi Muslims to defame and isolate them from the mainstream and to spoil their lives."
The doubts were raised particularly in the backdrop of 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, in which Muslim youth were arrested and later courts set them free as they were not found to be responsible for these incidents and the state had to pay monetary compensation to them. Later, investigators claimed that radical Hindu elements were responsible for these blasts but now NIA is alleged to have become soft on accused Hindu radicals.
Whether claims made by the NIA were correct or not will be known only after investigations and court proceedings are done. But the question that should be raised is how vulnerable are the Indian Muslim youth to the threat of getting radicalised and recruited by global terrorist outfits.
Indian Muslim is the community which has most strongly resisted the threat of Islamic State. While Muslims from western countries are reported to have joined the outfit in large numbers, incidents from India have been very minimum and almost negligible. Last month, Minister of state for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi reportedly told newspapers, “India is a land of peace and prosperity and there is no place here for those who support terrorism. Patriotism is filled in every Muslim in this country. Be it videos or threats, it’s not going to make much of difference,”. Earlier, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar have rejected claims of perceived threat of Muslims youths being recruited by the Islamic State.
Islamic State is a global terrorist outfit. Although it is reported to have claims of being engaged in Jihad for Islamic khilafah, Muslims allege that it is a plot by anti-Islam global secret agencies. Earlier, CIA and other agencies have played a major role in developing and nurturing similar outfits in Afghanistan.
Islamic State's biggest chunk of the victims are from the Muslim population in different countries. Take the latest attack on the Instanbul airport. Apart from killing thousands of people, mostly Muslims, it is tarnishing the image of Islam and Muslims and providing much needed fuel to the global Islamophobia. So there seems to be reasoning in the claim that anti-Islam forces are alluring innocent youth in the name of Jihad into this deadly business.
Islamic State and extremist ideologies thrive on the sense of victimisation of Muslim youth. The kind of turmoil and blood bath the whole Islamic world is going through provides the breeding ground for such extremist and violent ideologies.
There are two reasons for India being comparatively safe. The first reason is the democratic ethos of this country and the second reason is the united stand taken by Indian Muslim leadership and clergy against terrorism and terror outfits. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, one of the biggest and most organised groups of Indian Muslims, has recently held its all India conference in Hyderabad. Islamic State and extremism were a few of the major issues discussed in the conference. Jamaat chief (Ameer-e-Jamaat) came down heavily on the outfit and termed those planning to join it as 'bewakoof' (mindless). Vice-president of JIH spoke to The Times of India and said, “the conference was aware that it would be a gigantic task to keep the youth at bay from the IS influence through Internet. For this, the JIH decided to set up organisational units that would work in tandem with the youth and community elders. The units will also develop 'cordial' relations with other sections of the Indian society.”
In March this year, the Hyderabad unit of JIH launched an “anti-extremism campaign” to bring awareness among the youth. It held large number of meetings and youth programmes and tried to create awareness in them about the real teachings of Islam. Moulana Khalid Saifullah Rahamani, a reputed Islamic scholar of the city has written a series of articles in the Urdu daily ‘Munsif’ and termed the Islamic State as the enemy of Islam and Muslims and has proved with theological reasoning that their ideology is antithesis to what Quran preaches.
Whoever may be behind Islamic State, but Muslim scholars are unanimous that this is nothing but Kharijites, an extremist and violent group about which Prophet Muhammad had sternly warned. After forecasting about their extreme mindless violence the Prophet said in several hadiths:
"Verily there would arise from my Ummah after me a group (of people) who would recite the Quran, but it would not go beyond their throats, and they would pass clean through their religion just as the arrow passes through the prey, and they would never come back to it. They would be the worst among the creation and the creatures."
Muslim scholars believe that the Islamic State possesses all the signs of this 'misguided anti-Islam group', about which prophet had warned. If a section of Muslim youth is being radicalised and if NIA claims have any element of truth in it, then definitely it is a wake-up-call and needs to be addressed at three fronts.
One, the democratic ethos and the Constitutional values of the country should be maintained and strengthened. This is the real strength of India. It has helped us from shielding ourselves from such global threats and we will be as strong as these values and ethos will be strong. The forces who are trying to create communal rift and who are after the democratic ethos and constitutional values are in fact helping Islamic State and global terrorist movements. One side of extremism fuels the other side of extremism. The rise of radical right wing extremism in India, provides much needed breeding ground for extremism in the name of Islam. India should be united in fighting the menace of Islamic State and also the menace of right wing Hindu radicalism as both are the two side of same coin and strengthen each other.
Two, Muslim youth should be protected from the sense of victimisation and sense of security and confidence in the structures and institution of the nation should be strengthened,
And three, the Muslim organisations, clergy and scholarship should continue their efforts of creating awareness among the community particularly among the youth, about the real teachings of Islam, concept of Jihad and about the dangers and misguidance of extremist forces who are exploiting the beautiful religion of Islam.
The author is the vice-president of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH). He lives in Hyderabad.