Worried that a particularly virulent extremist ideology from west Asia will take root in Kashmir, the home ministry is actively considering setting up a committee to prevent radicalisation of youth in the state.
The immediate reason for the move is the raising of the flag of the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIS) at a rally held by separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq where some anti-Shia slogans were also chanted.
But the Indian security establishment had already been worried by reports of educated Indians joining Sunni jihadists in Iraq and Syria. Four youth from Kalyan in Maharashtra, one each from Karnataka and Gujarat, and a couple from Kerala and Tamil Nadu are said to have joined the jihadist forces along with unknown numbers of Indian NRIs settled in west Asia.
At a meeting chaired by Home secretary Anil Goswami and attended by top Intelligence Bureau officials including the past (Ashok Prasad) and present (K Rajendra Kumar) police chiefs of Jammu and Kashmir, it was decided that the committee be set up under senior joint secretary (Kashmir) RK Shrivastava. One of its tasks is to promote south Asian Islam to counter conservative religious winds from Iraq and Syria.
“The proposal is awaiting clearance from highest levels, though the only way to prevent Islamic radicalisation is to ensure justice to minorities without any harassment,” said a senior home ministry official.
The declaration of a caliphate by ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Iraq has had its effects in India, including sectarian tension between Sunni and Shia communities in Lucknow. It has also given an impetus to banned groups like Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and terrorist group Indian Mujahideen, which have advocated the restoration of the caliphate or khalifat in the past.
While the security agencies have sensitised the religious community leaders in India about the rise of radicalisation and the dangers of joining Syrian jihad, it has also sought help from countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran to help curb the rise of global sectarianism. “We have to prevent radicalised Indians from going to Syria and Iraq, as trained urban guerrillas can create havoc on their return to their country of birth,” said a senior official.