The Maharashtra government has run into opposition from Muslim scholars and social activists to its “de-radicalisation” programme aimed at youth from the community. Much of the opposition is to the term “de-radicalisation”, which critics say amounts to labelling a community.
“De-radicalisation implies that Muslim youth are radicalised. This is something unacceptable as we do not think any particular community has been radicalised,” was the common refrain at a meeting the government held with Muslim scholars at Mantralaya, the state secretariat, recently. Among those present were Mahmood-Ur-Rahman, PA Inamdar, Abdul Shaban, and Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi.
Inamdar, a noted educationist, said, “We are not against the measures being taken to bring the community into mainstream, but our objection is to the way it is projected. I don’t think the youth from any particular community are radicalised. Extremism does exist among youth to a certain extent, irrespective of community and religion. Fringe instances of youth running away from home for various reasons cannot be termed radicalisation as it hasn’t proved to be so.”
Professor Abdul Shaban of the Tata Institute of the Social Sciences said any such move would further alienate the community.
“This will further widen the gap between the communities.
Tagging Muslims as ‘radicalised’ will also lead to hardship to them in getting employment. The steps are bound to prove counter-productive. The Government has its own machinery to trace the youth who have lost their way; why does it want to link the issue with welfare schemes,” he asked.
Inamdar suggested that the government instead quietly implement its progressive schemes meant for the community rather than be seen as pushing a political agenda.
Ranjit Patil, minister of state for home, told HT, “We agree with the concerns raised with the nomenclature of the policy. We may change it.”
Additional chief secretary, home, KP Bakshi, has already chaired five meetings on the programme and a government resolution is expected to be issued soon.
The initiative envisages various schemes in Muslim-dominated pockets: counselling of accused in jail on terrorism charges, measures to increase the employability of youth, and modernisation of madrasas.