New Delhi: With growing concerns over indoctrination through social media, end-to-end encrypted apps and audio-video clips on the dark web, the government is laying the groundwork with the help of states to mount a grand offensive against multifaceted radicalisation threats, in a bid to neutralise potential sources advocating violent extremism.
Top sources in the government said the move to involve various agencies as well as state governments to counter violent extremist ideologies and to promote a message of peace came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concerns over 'sermons' being spread through multimedia platforms and suggested that security agencies map the areas to identify the locations as well as mediums involved in spreading indoctrination materials.
Modi in a meeting told the top security brass to use advance technology to detect the origin of the content so that it can be suitably addressed. Countering violent extremism has not been an easy task for many countries and it requires careful planning at various levels, while engaging and empowering the community facing such threats.
End-to-end encryption in messenger apps has always been a serious challenge with law enforcement agencies seeking back door access for a very long time. Modi is learnt to have also suggested that the officials take initiative for training people and production of inspirational films for the purpose of de-radicalisation.
"All the concerned stakeholders have been asked to initiate action in a time bound manner and communicate the progress to the Centre. The focus is cultivating community collaboration for counter-radicalisation and de-radicalisation. The state's police and intelligence unit's role is essential in identifying potential threats and developing level of trusts with people by engaging community elders. The idea is to prevent the youngsters from embracing extremist ideologies and to ensure they don't feel alienated," sources in the know said.
A senior intelligence officer claimed police forces in several states have successfully pre-empted plans of radicalised youths indoctrinated through materials available on websites and prevented terror actions. He, however, cautioned that the fight against such elements would need to continue in view of the prevailing circumstances.
"There is no doubt serious concern on the increasing role of social media and internet in spreading hatred, rumour mongering and radicalising youths and a larger network with investment in modern technology would be required to counter the emerging multi-pronged challenges. There is also a suggestion that state police could set up district level social media laboratories with the assistance of the National Technical Research Organisation, which could improve policing on the ground," the intelligence officer said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has recently started a separate division for counter-terrorism and counter radicalisation. Besides monitoring of activities of fundamentalist organisations, the division housed at North Block also focuses on launching policies and strategies to combat radicalisation and to generate short-term as well as long-term measures for de-radicalisation.
The security and intelligence agencies have emphasised the need to keep a watch over Wahhabi-Salafi linked broadcast on internet and social media as well as activities of fringe Hindu elements.
Despite the efforts mounted by the government, Islamic preacher Zakir Naik continues to release sermons through his Peace TV and podcasts on social media platforms. Naik was granted permanent resident status by Malaysia since he fled India in 2016 after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) charged him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for funding terrorist activities and indoctrinating gullible youths to take up jihad.
Naik's Peace TV has recently released a video on the issue of conversion, suggesting measures to convince non-Muslims to accept Islam. The propaganda arms of Naik is being operated through a maze of a companies floated in Britain with Universal Broadcasting Corporation Limited handling the media venture with help of other companies such as Lord Production Inc Limited, Club TV Limited and Islamic Research Foundation International.
Naik has resigned as director of Universal Broadcasting in May 2018, however, he remains on the board of Lord Production and Islamic Research Foundation International – both the companies operate from Birmingham. Islamic Research Foundation is banned in India after the government had argued that Naik was using the platform to radicalise youths and was also responsible for influencing and indoctrinating impressionable minds of youths to convert to Islam.
The NIA had suggested that 24 youths migrated from Kerala to Afghanistan to join the Islamic State (IS) were regular visitor of Islamic Research Foundation office at Dongri and attended meetings with its functionaries. An office bearer was tasked to process the documents of conversion to Islam and agencies had seized 78 such affidavits in a search operation at Mumbai.
The security agencies are also keeping a watch over massive propaganda launched for several Sikh organisations based in Britain, Canada and the US for Khalistan referendum 2020 and materials being circulated for 12 August London Declaration at Trafalgar square.
An intelligence note reviewed by Firstpost suggests that Pakistan backed elements operating from West Asia are involved in the radicalisation of vulnerable segments and on the eastern frontier, Bangladesh based elements like Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) is indoctrinating and mobilising youths.
The note further said that there has been significant growth of South India based elements linked to West Asia and immense increase has been detected in membership of certain organisations, particularly vocal in espousal of Jihad. It said there was ample cross-border movement of radical groups looking to expand their networks, talent spotting, recruitment, brainwashing and undertaking reconnaissance for identification of suitable targets.
An officer coordinating with the states on the issue said continued efforts by central and state security agencies on the front of radicalisation would be imperative to counter support from Pakistan.
"While propagating true message of religious scriptures with the help of community leaders, agencies would also require to keep a watch on foreign receipts of Wahhabi-Salafi platforms getting money from abroad. Similarly, there is an urgent need to take down radical contents from the web which remains the main disseminator of radical thoughts. On the account of growing activities, the mushrooming groups need to be suitably covered on the ground,” he said.
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Updated Date: Jul 03, 2018 13:40:43 IST