Union home minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday the Islamic State (IS) had failed to influence Indian Muslims because the latter were “patriots” to whom extremism was an alien concept.
Singh’s comments echo Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks last year that Indian Muslims “will live and die for their country”, and come at a time when a more assertive Hindu right has left sections of the minority communities uncomfortable.
"It is a matter of serious concern that they (terrorists) are seeding the minds of innocents with poisonous provocation and inspiring them to be brutally intolerant and violent with others,” said Singh at the inaugural session of a three-day international conference on counter-terrorism.
“However … I am happy to note that the influence of Islamic State on the Indian youth is negligible. Indian Muslims are patriots and are not swayed by fundamentalist ideologies. Extremism is alien to their nature."
He said according to the intelligence agencies just a handful of Indian youth joined the IS and some had even returned after being persuaded by their families.
Indian intelligence agencies have been wary over the IS naming a breakaway Pakistani Taliban commander as its chief for Khurasan, the historic name for the area encompassing Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of India. The al Qaeda has also announced the formation of a new wing for the Indian subcontinent.
Read Rajnath Singh's speech
The developments have left security analysts warning Indian authorities of efforts by these groups to radicalise Indian Muslims. So far, four engineering students from Kalyan in Maharashtra’s Thane district, had joined the IS but at least one of them later returned home.
“The appeal of ISIS to young, educated people, in spite of its medieval ideology, is a cause for concern to the global community," Singh said, referring to another name used to describe the IS.
He also launched a scathing attack on Pakistan, saying if the neighbouring country stopped supporting terrorists then the security situation in South Asia would improve significantly.
Singh said it was unfortunate that even after paying such a heavy price for itself Pakistan and its associates find it difficult to understand that there are no "good terrorists and bad terrorists".
"If the ISI and the Pakistan army stop its support to certain terror outfits, I have no hesitation in saying that the security situation in South Asia will improve significantly," said Singh.
The conference is being organised by private think tank India Foundation and the Sardar Patel University of Police Security and Criminal Justice.
ISIS influence on Indian youth negligible: Rajnath Singh