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Tackling The IS Tentacles In India

By Sazzad Hussain

29 August, 2015

The spread of occupation of Islamic State or ISIL, ISIS is phenomenal since its rise to prominence in the Middle-East in the wake of the popular Arab Spring that started in 2011. The west’s consistent duplicity over the issue of bringing democracy selectively in the Arab world contributed immensely towards the formation of IS. While George W. Bush invaded and destroyed Iraq beyond integration to bring democracy by toppling Saddam Hussain in 2003, the Obama administration took eleven days to condemn the crackdown on pro-democracy activists at Cairo’s Tahrir Square by Hoshni Mubarak’s forces. Similarly the west spelled ‘restraint’ when pro-democracy demonstrations were brutally handled in Bahrain with Saudi forces. But the Anglo-Franc duo of David Cameroon and Nicholas Sarkozy bombed Libya and aided Al-Qaeda cadres on the ground to topple and hunt down Gaddafi. Same fate is being awaited for Bashar al-Assad of Syria, the last bastion of secular Arab establishment, as the west has been pumping money and arms to various Jihadi outfits with the help of some regional allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel. The IS was made from foreign Jihadists that fought against Gaddafi’s army in Libya and from those who tried to take control Tunisia after the popular revolution that toppled the despotic rule of Zain al-Abedine Ben Ali. After its ‘spectacular’ success against the Syrian and Iraqi army, thanks to the large coverage by the western media, the IS now is trying to project itself as a global force. This objective and designs, very much multiplied in the social media are now echoed, though peripherally in India. It is high time now for all the stakeholders of the Indian state to root out the evil before it sprouts up in an immeasurable field.

Ever since the Islamist movements surfaced the Arab world, in the form of Muslim Brotherhood founded by Sayyed Qutb in Egypt in 1950s there were no takers for it in India, the home to world’s second largest Muslims. Though the political elites of the community did have a transnational agenda in the form of the Khilafat Movement a hundred years ago, it was mostly an anti-colonial mobilization rather than a religious affiliation. Maulana Mawdudi and those who dreamt of a political Islamic system where the idea of nation-state ceases, the Partition took them to Pakistan. Thus Indian Muslims were free from any political Islamic rhetoric after its independence. India’s secularism and New Delhi’s strong and unequivocal support for the Palestinian cause, the core issue for which the global launch of the Jihadi movement is excused, made Indian Muslims hard to find any logic to go against the state to join the global Islamist movements emanating from the Middle-East. India’s role in freeing Bangladesh from the tyranny of Pakistan also provided the Indian Muslims a thought that religious affinities do not mean political or territorial solidarity. Even the infamous armed seizure of the Ka’aba during the Haj of 1975 by Osman al-Uthaibi’s transnational Islamic followers could not attract the Indian Muslims for that cause as none of the Indian pilgrims joined that rebellion (there were many Pakistanis who did it). So when Muslim fighters from many Arab countries gathered near Peshawar from 1980 onwards to fight a Holy War against the Soviets in Afghanistan with US and Pak-Saudi help, there was no interest or enthusiasm about this among Indian Muslims and the ten Afghan president Dr. Najibullah was accorded a state honour during his official visit to New Delhi with much objection by Washington.

But seeds of dissent among the Muslim youths of the country were sown as the nation witnessed unprecedented unrest related to the Ayodhya dispute. The demolition of the disputed structure on 6th November, 1992 led to wide spread communal riots across the country. A slack administration, biased police force and the slow pace of the legal proceedings in providing justice to Muslims in those carnages antagonized a section of the youth from the community. Meanwhile the triumph of the Afghan Mujahedeen in Afghanistan with the withdrawal of Soviet troops by Gorbachev in 1989 encouraged Pakistan to try similar moves in Kashmir, Chechnya and the Balkans. The rise of the pro-Pak militancy in Kashmir and the communal riots after the Ayodhya demolition led some Indian Muslims to go against the state and it was the Pakistani agencies that took the chance of using them. Thus we have the Bombay Blasts of 1993 which continued for more than two decades with bombings in suburban trains, market places, the Gateway of India etc. However, though the Al-Qaeda emerged strongly during these period which culminated in 9/11 strike, there was no Indian Muslim as members or cadres of this terror group. No Indians figures in the list of twenty-two countries whose nationals numbering to more tan five hundred were arrested by US forces in Afghanistan and flown to the Guantanamo Bay for detention as Al-Qaeda operatives. But the politics of hate kept some Muslims in India to think the other way as we had the Gujarat pogrom. Outfits like the Indian Mujahedeen surfaced to engage in terror attacks with active support from Pakistan.

Whatever the armed or terror tactics used by some Indian Muslim outfits to play the act of revenge or to extend the Jihad, it has been characterized only being concentrated within the country or operations across the western border. No Indian Muslim outfits have been found calling for Jihad abroad or in the distant legions of the neo-Caliphate. The publicity of the IS through the social media is the reason behind the reported incidents of Indian Muslim youths joining that dreaded terror group operating in Syria and Iraq. The Indians are now following their European, Australian and American counterparts to join the outfit, mostly because of it glorification and romanticization in the social media. Thus it is important that the Indian state should initiate some measures to reverse this dangerous trend. Promoting the pluralistic character of the nation and Sufism in a great way could be one step in tackling this prevailing trend.

(The writer teaches English at Lakhimpur Commerce College, North Lakhimpur, Assam).


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