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ISIS presence in India’s neighbourhood may provide cover to ISI activities

Last Modified Saturday, 18 February 2017 (13:34 IST)
New Delhi:  may not be having a direct physical threat from itself, but if the extremist outfit’s foothold gets stronger in Afghanistan, neighbouring Pakistan’s may well act behind their cover. ''It is the ISI which would be taking advantage of the spread of ISIS tentacles towards South Asia,'' highly- placed sources told UNI. So far, only a miniscule number of India's minority youth had been influenced by the Islamic state propaganda and it was very unlikely that the extremist West Asian organisation could get a direct foothold in India. ''But our main concern is the ISI striking in India in the name of ISIS,'' the sources said.
 

Attempts by these extremist groups have by and large failed to wean away the Indian Muslim youth to any radical ideologies. According to intelligence sources, so far, there was no presence of ISIS in India on the ground. However, in view of the increasing threat of these forces in West Asia and in the more immediate neighbourhood, the Government has turned its attention to promoting a more moderate version of Islam as represented by Sufism. It was as part of this project that India last year hosted the World Sufi conference, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
 The conference was conceptualised and organised by very senior members of the team that works at a very high level to devise counter-terror strategies. The team has been assigned the task of liaising with West Asian countries in counter-terror cooperation. Thursday’s blast in Karachi at the Dargah of sufi saint Shahbaz Qalandar has once again highlighted the ISIS threat to a version of Islam as propounded by sufis. Indian Muslims are being eyed by these forces, as the country has roughly 180 million Muslims, who are 11 per cent of the global Muslim population, which is the biggest population of the community in the world except Indonesia and Pakistan. ''ISIS many not be having any active ground presence as of now but some incidents like that which happened a few years ago in Kerala in which a Professor’s hands were chopped by extremists should sound an alarm bell for us.
 
Both state and civil society abdicated…,'' Director, Society For Policy Studies, Commodore C Uday Bhasklar C Uday said. ''The extremists are against the moderate and tolerant interpretation and practice of Islam as represented by sufis, and that is why they have targeted the dargah of Shabaz Qalandar.’’ ''The fact that this is perhaps the only Dargah in where women can also participate—and some of them join the dhamal—is a red rag for ideology which is deeply misogynistic,'' Mr Bhaskar said.
 
 Muslim scholars think that the best way to arrest any drift of the Muslim youth to any extremist distortion of Islam was to bring them in the main stream by increasing their participation in education, jobs, decision-making by ensuring them justice. ''If anyone is indulging in anti-national or anti-national activity, there should be an exemplary punishment for such people, but along with it, no innocent youth should be harassed or punished,'' says eminent Muslim intellectual Dr Zafar Mehmood, who has been Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Sachar committee that had been constituted to report on state of Muslims. ‘’If you want to counter terror, you should plan for the next 50 years, and also study the world happenings in the past 50 years to know what forces were in play that had led to the situation,’’ he said. (UNI)
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