Whenever we hear the word ‘radicalisation’ we worry about stereotyping Muslims. The problem is not so much that the British terrorist attacks that were thankfully botched up involved people with Muslim names — which is undeniable — but because the rest of the world is worried about how to sift the proverbial wheat from the chaff. For Indians concerned about whether the world, especially Britain, is agitated about India being the next ‘radicalised’ outsourcing unit, the truth is that all Muslims are not jehadi-friendly. Admittedly, in the context of the current situation, all the radicalised are Muslims. The Bangalore suspects may or may not fit in the category of those involved in the operation(s) to carry out a terrorist attack on British soil, but the fact remains that Britain is scared and will seek to protect itself. And rightfully so.
The archetypal image of the terrorist — and that includes extremists under the rubric of Naxalites, Kashmiri militants, etc — is the person who takes recourse to grievances of socio-economic deprivation and being marginalised. The case with the global ummah — or at least its perception — is that the worldwide Muslim community is under attack and needs to react, in the tactics of al-Qaeda and other versions of Muslim brotherhood — violently. This, of course, for better or worse, cuts across States and comfort levels. Thus, we have individuals who, discomfited by the fact that the real issues, such as Palestine or the question of occupied Iraq, have not been quickly corrected, find other minor issues, like Salman Rushdie’s knighthood, to project as bugbears.
Radicalisation is not only about being down and out, but also about lashing out. It is about feeling frustrated. And that is why we should not feel so surprised about some Indians — who happen to be part of the community of people unhappy with the US-British-led War on Terror — being turned into disgruntled members of society. One hopes that the Indian way of life eclipses some complaints. But if some anomalies slip through, the question to be asked of those waging a war is: how to remove the cause. We’ll see what happens next.