There is one crucial and disturbing inference to be drawn from the Gujarat Police’s revelations about the activists of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) being responsible for the Ahmedabad blasts: homegrown Islamic terrorism exists.
No longer is it possible to pretend that all the perpetrators of blasts across the country are stooges of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence, or — in the case of the Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islam (HuJI) — hail from Bangladesh.
What it shows is that the ideological war between Islamic moderates and extremists — being fought across the world — has also reached India. The extremists swear by the same beliefs that motivate the sectarian attackers in Karachi, Lahore and elsewhere.
As anyone who has read the email sent out by the so called Indian Mujahideen before the Ahmedabad blasts will concede, these are Muslims who completely reject the mainstream view — repeated ad nauseam by well-meaning Muslims — that terrorism has no place in Islam. The calls by established and respected Islamic bodies like the Darul-Uloom Deoband or the Movement Against Terrorism led by Maulana Khalid Rashid — both of which have strongly denounced terrorism — mean nothing to them.
Why has it happened? The subject calls for careful study. Poverty and illiteracy among Muslims are of course factors. Much is made of the fact that the top leadership of SIMI is educated and tech savvy. But there is no denying that the bulk of its membership is drawn from among the jobless and semi-literate.
Of course, the charges have also to be proved. The Gujarat Police — as the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and the effort to label him a terrorist proved — are not above fabrication. Many Muslims still find them farfetched. “Let the police prove what they have said,” declared Maulana Rashid. “So far, no convincing evidence has been brought even against Abu Bashar. This will only cause further alienation of Muslims.”
For the sake of the country, one hopes Maulana Rashid is right, that all terror in India is indeed Pakistan-sponsored. Or else the fight against it is going to prove even tougher than we thought.