By Lekha Vijaya:
As a person hailing from Kerala, I find it quite disturbing that such a huge number of people (around 21 cases so far) are leaving behind everything and are on their way to Syria for the so-called Holy war. Though no clear picture has yet surfaced of them joining the ISIS ranks, from the evidence collected so far it seems to be the hard truth. ISIS is no more a distant howl; it is very much barking in our courtyard. This has been a predicted one by our intelligence agencies. Unlike other North Indian states where caste and religion played an important role, Kerala used to be known for its socialistic principles and religious harmony. Maybe this is thanks to the high literacy rate or other social indices that compare well to other states. But the truth that in Kerala, too, lurked such extremist ideologies in the dark, is indeed a shocking news for every Keralite including me! And now as the truth is out in the open, its most worrying aspect is that it is not the illiterate or ignorant who are on their way to Syria, but the educated youth from well off families who had become prey to IS propaganda and got radicalised.
The recruits to ISIS are no longer limited to the war-torn West Asian countries suffering from a plethora of crises. Long back, we could see how terror outfits like Taliban or LeT influenced the poor and suffering, their ostentatious efforts to resurrect the ailing Muslim population in poor countries by making them join the jihad. But now, it is not just the circumstances that are making people join the ranks; something else is luring them into this. The well off, middle-income groups, the educated youth, engineers, doctors etc. are being radicalised by a carefully charted online propaganda of the militants. This is the factor which we should ponder over.
Though India is a country with the third-largest Muslim population in the world, the general attitude of Indian Muslims has never been favourable to terrorism across the world. From Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan to A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the mainstream of Muslim population in India despised terrorism. The number of people from India joining the IS is indeed a small number with respect to the Muslim population in India. And even now we are at a safe distance from the ‘lone wolf’ attacks happening across the globe. It is quite a laudable fact for the power of democracy in India. But the alarm bell has started ringing in the past few decades. It is high time that we accepted this fact and tried to crack down on the reasons. The recent trend shows educated people are finding cause with the deadliest of militant organisations. Why should a family, a husband, wife and two kids move to Syria to live in the so-called Caliphate? What kind of security could they feel?
This is not the time just to sit and wonder why people are getting lured away. It is time some sort of action is taken. Already some Islamic organisations have come forward and said that there’s nothing Islamic about ISIS and that Islam never preaches terror. This is a welcome step. More such organisations should come forward and take a firm stand on terrorism. Again, this attitude should not be just against IS. The same stand should be taken against all sorts of terrorism happening in our nation. As it is always said there is no good or bad terrorism, just terrorism which must always be condemned.
From the news emanating from different corners, intelligence agencies are pointing at some madrasas that might have propagated extremist ideologies and influenced youths from a very young age in different parts of the country. This has to be carefully monitored. This should be seen as a damage control measure and not as propaganda against Muslims. It is not just the intelligence agencies, but there are many Muslim parents too who are quite shocked with recent news and want to monitor the religious education imparted to their children. It is no more a fight of Muslims against the non-Muslims. The attack is not limited to the non-Muslims but is against the whole of humanity. In the holy war to make a Caliphate (which now occupies a significant portion of Syria and Iraq), the major casualty are the Muslims themselves!
Also, we should be vigilant in one more aspect. The authorities should not let this situation to be utilised by religious fanatics. Yes, indeed those who are getting radicalised now are Muslims, but that is no reason to keep at bay the many Muslims who firmly believe in the Constitution and conduct their life accordingly. At the same time, Islamic organisations should not belittle the situation by saying that the BJP government is in a war with the Muslim population to propagate the Hindutva ideology. Whoever indulges in cruel activities in the name of religion are nothing but lunatics. They are terrorists irrespective of the religion they think they believe in. An Islamic preacher who professes to protect his religion by waging a war against anybody he thinks as a non-believer is a religious fanatic just like a Hindu who is ready to shed blood to construct a temple in Ayodhya.
Very much like the political crisis, the terror outfits are in a crisis too and are competing in getting the maximum number of recruits. Today, we witness not just the fight for the ‘chair’ in politics, but the fight to claim responsibility for a terror attack happening in some part of the globe by the different terror groups. The killing spree of all these outfits continues without abating and each day terror strikes are happening across the globe. Be it Baghdad or Paris, a lone wolf attack or a planned bomb explosion, it is the human lives that are fading. This is a war one should fight with one’s conscience.
Featured image credit: Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times by Getty Images.
Banner image for representation only. Credit: Day Donaldson/Flickr.