Indian Mujahideen : Misrepresenting India Muslims
The Indian Mujahideen are pretenders misrepresenting the Indian Muslims. A largely secular community, those of Islamic faith in India have done the country proud over the years, standing by our pluralistic order despite many provocations starting with the gory days of Partition in 1947. In a multi ethnic and religious yet liberal society as India, existence of communal and community tensions are inevitable. Managing social harmony is thus a major challenge to the state a task in which it has largely succeeded the aberrations of Godhra or Babri Masjid notwithstanding. Yet these anomalies tend to be exaggerated by a section of the community which taking to extremist means can cause extensive damage to their own ilk.
In rationalizing the Delhi serial blasts on 13 September, which killed over 20 innocents, the Indian Mujahideen, blamed these attacks on the atrocities post Ahmedabad strikes and threatened to continue with their campaign of mayhem in the days ahead. They have also been accusing the state for neglecting the community and distortions of the Babri Masjid and the Gujarat riots. While the community at large is prepared to forgive and forget and proceed ahead, it is groups as the Indian Mujahideen which are continuing to exacerbate festering wounds.
This group is seen as the hard line faction of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) which broke away in 2005. Safdar Nagori the general secretary who is reported to have led this group was for increasing the network across India and seems to have drawn his inspiration from the Al Qaeda. Gujarat DGP PC Pande said, "IM is nothing but SIMI activists who were behind the serial blasts in Ahmedabad."
A distinction is now drawn between the moderates and the hawks in the SIMI. The moderates continue to espouse propaganda and persuasion for making Islam a dominant system in India, while the hard liners have adopted terror to achieve this aim. Police sources stated that differences between the two factions emerged in the 1990ï¿½s but the final break took place in 2005. The police attribute the blasts in Mumbai (July 11, 2006), Malegaon, Samjhauta Express, Hyderabad, Ajmer, Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad to the hard line SIMI faction who are reported to have organised terrorist training camps in the forests of many states including Kerala, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.
SIMI is also reported to be having around 50 fronts in the country. Four fronts Tahreek-e-Ehyaa-e-Ummat (TEU), Tehreek-Talaba-e-Arabia (TTA), Tehrik Tahaffuz-e-Shaï¿½aire Islam (TTSI) and Wahadat-e-Islami are reportedly working at the all India level. Twenty-three of the outfits are active in Kerala followed by eight in Maharashtra, seven in West Bengal, three in Bihar, and two in Uttar Pradesh and one each in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Delhi.
The profile of Indian Mujahideen is now reasonably established. The aim should now be not to hound a particular community but to take corrective measures in order to restore confidence of the people by separating terrorists from the ordinary folk so that no person is unnecessarily discriminated. The situation has to be therefore handled with utmost care and caution.
Indiaï¿½s law enforcement agencies are unprepared for the challenge of terrorism that poses the country. What is surprising is that despite over two to three years of existence, there was limited penetration of the IM by intelligence agencies and therefore there would be a requirement for ensuring that the intelligence apparatus in the country improves over the years. This would also be evident from the curious case of inability of the government to produce enough evidence to nail SIMI as a banned organisation.
The Supreme Court had to intervene to extend the interim order putting a six-week stay on the Special Tribunal's decision to lift the ban on SIMI. The Special Tribunal headed by Justice Geeta Mittal had ordered lifting of the ban as it felt that sufficient evidence to prove the case had not been produced before it.
The diversity of security challenge facing India is clear with emergence of technologically savvy youth who may be sheltered by a community without actually knowing the activities in which they have been involved. Thus a measured response would be essential to combat the menace particularly before it goes too deep in the community at large.
The Muslim community in the country is highly sensitive to being tarnished with the blot of terrorism. Thus there have been concerted efforts by community leaders to avoid this tag. The recent fatwa against terrorist acts from the Deobandi schools in UP have been well publicised. In Mumbaiï¿½s northern suburb of Mira Road 30 local mosques have started asking people to report any suspicious activity in their area before and after each azaan or prayer. This trend needs to be actively encouraged.
The Indian police and the establishment thus needs to remember that the IM is not a true representative of the Muslim community and adopt a differential approach in countering terror networks. That would be the long term path of success in weeding out the roots of extremism in our society be it of any religion or creed.
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Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle
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