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UK colleges told to spy on Asians

Govt believes, campuses are breeding terrorists, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2006 04:45 IST
Vijay Dutt

University employees across Britain are to be asked to spy on "Asian looking" and Muslim students, whom they may suspect of being involved in supporting terrorism, and report them to the Special Branch of the police.

According to an 18-page document from the Department of Education, obtained by The Guardian, the government believes campuses have become "fertile recruiting grounds" for extremists. Thus the need to keep an eye on them.

The department has drawn up a series of proposals which are to be sent to universities and other centres of higher education before the end of the year.

The document claims that Islamic societies at universities have become increasingly politicised in recent years. It discusses monitoring the 'radical speakers' among their members and the leaflets they distribute.

It warns of terrorists visiting campuses in search of potential recruits, and of students being "groomed" for extremism.

The document acknowledges that universities may be uncomfortable passing on information to the Special Branch, fearing it amounts to "collaborating with the 'secret police.'

It says there will be "concerns about the police targeting certain sections of the student population (eg Muslims)". But it adds that "the Special Branch is not the 'secret police' and is accountable."

British Muslim groups are angry and so is the Indian community. The directive to spy on those who are "Asian looking" means bringing under surveillance the youth among over 1.2 lakh Muslims of Indian origin- who so far have a clean record- and also others of Indian origin. It is estimated that there are over 17,000 Indian students in the UK.

Sir Gulam K Noon, the biggest producer of readymade Indian food in Britain, told HT, "The move is appalling. The atmosphere at universities will be badly affected. Muslim students will be suspicious of anyone looking at them. This will make the divide wider."

First Published: Oct 17, 2006 03:07 IST