As terrorism continues to be India's headache, home ministry has kept itself busy in efforts to combat radicalisation

Speaking at the annual conference of DGPs and IGPs in Tekanpur on Saturday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh raised the issue of 'do-it-yourself (DIY)' terrorists and lone-wolf attackers, reported Hindustan Times. Calling them the greatest threats to communal harmony, Singh asked for the creation of a dedicated cell to monitor online radicalisation.

The Intelligence Bureau took Singh's suggestion forward as it called for a special unit which will collect data and share information in real time between security agencies. The agency also asked DGPs to study radicalisation patterns in their respective states.

In a separate report, Hindustan Times also reported that the research wing of the home ministry has undertaken a nation-wide project to find out the reasons behind the radicalisation of youth and how could religious extremism be countered in the country. Called the ‘Rad and Derad programme’, the project is under the aegis of the National Police Mission programme (NPM) which was introduced in 2005 to modernise police forces for new challenges and to use research to improve counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, and the investigation of cyber and economic crimes.

The report also quoted a senior official in the Bureau of Police Research and Development wing of the home ministry who said that the research was a "rare endeavour" by the Centre to gain insight into radicalisation and extremism. The official also said that the focus will not be on any particular religion but on radicalisation itself.

As India (and the world at large) continues to struggle with terrorist attacks, the home ministry has been keeping busy in its efforts to combat radicalism. In November 2017, it formed a new division to exclusively deal with emerging security challenges such as radicalisation. The division — called Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Radicalisation (CTCR) — also encompasses merger of some of the ministry's existing divisions.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

The CTCR wing, which is basically a modified version of the home ministry's internal security-II division, will focus on tracking and assessing the online reach of global terrorist outfits like the Islamic State and devising strategies to counter their propaganda while the CIS division will monitor online crimes and threats, including cyber fraud and hacking, and suggest ways to minimise and fight them. "The need for a counter-radicalisation division and policy was felt as (Rajnath) was keen that the problem should be solved from the base," an official at the ministry had said at the time.

A little earlier, in October 2016, it appointed former IPS officer Ashok Prasad as an adviser on cyber and social media, according to The Times of India. This was done because of concerns over use of cyberspace and social media for radicalisation and recruitment of Indian youth. Prasad will help the ministry to adopt a strategy to counter radicalisation on social media as well as fight cyber threats.

The report also noted that of the nearly 60 IS-influenced youngsters arrested across the country, all had been radicalised by people actually based in Iraq and Syria but who are active on social media. The youngsters were constantly asked by their "handlers" via closed Facebook groups, Telegram etc. to pledge allegiance to terrorist organisations and take up lone-wolf attacks in India. Intelligence agencies have been actively tracking jihadi activity on social media and in many cases have managed to intervene right before the plans were executed.

The centre has also looked at ensuring a "nationalist curriculum" in Jammu and Kashmir schools to counter what it believes is a "false narrative" that is impacting youth in the state, reported The Indian Express.

In terms of clear action taken against terrorism, the defence forces killed a total of 203 militants Jammu and Kashmir in 2017 till December 10 which was the highest number in the past seven years. Those killed included some top militant commanders such as Lashkar-e-Taiba's Bashir Ahmad Wani, Abu Dujana and Junaid Mattoo, and Hizbul Mujahideen's Sabzar Ahmad Bhat.

Furthermore, the National Investigating Agency (NIA) has also stepped up its investigations into "terror funding". The arrests of separatist leaders and others by the NIA were preceded by efforts to obtain information through improved intelligence. The government has also made efforts to wean away youth from the influence of separatists by taking steps to boost investment and employment in the state.

As part of its efforts to address the sense of alienation and to improve infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir, the government released funds under its Rs 80,000 crore (over $12 billion) package for the state announced in 2015. Rajnath too has made regular visits to the state and emphasised that the government is willing to speak to anyone in the state.

In October, the government appointed Dineshwar Sharma, a former Intelligence Bureau chief, as its special representative to "initiate and carry forward a dialogue with elected representatives, various organisations and concerned individuals in the State of Jammu and Kashmir". One of Sharma's objectives apparently is to deal with and contain radicalisation among the youth in the state.

With inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Jan 08, 2018 14:15 PM

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