The arrests of the ISIS operatives by the Delhi Police opened up a can of worms literally. The busting of this module led to the police finding that there were many operatives who were part of this network. And the police is talking of a pan-India network with its largest presence in South India.
The past week has seen plenty of development in South India regarding the Islamic State. The revenge attack in which a police officer was killed brutally by terrorists leaning towards the ISIS was yet another wake up call about how deeply infested the problem of terror and radicalisation is down South.
The police have arrested Towfiq and Shamim in connection with the murder of the special sub-inspector Wilson at the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. The two, said to be associated with the ISIS, were arrested from the Udupi Railway station in Karnataka.
Many under scanner:
It began with the arrests of the ISIS operatives by the Delhi Police. The busting of this module led to the police finding that there were many operatives who were part of this network. The police also learnt that this was a pan India network and had its largest presence in South India.
In all, the police have identified 11 persons and say that more arrests would be carried out soon. It is a very big module explained a Delhi Police officer to MyNation. It is connected to different parts of the country. The police teams from Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Telangana are coordinating with each other to get deeper into this case and bust the conspiracy. Even officials from the Intelligence Bureau are involved in this operation.
Further, it was also found that these ISIS members had held a series of meetings at Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They were plotting revenge strikes on both Hindus and the police personnel who have been instrumental in busting the modules.
Zakir Naik a centric figure:
The call and chat intercepts as well as the interrogation have revealed that they drew inspiration from Zakir Naik, the Islamic preacher currently staying in Malaysia. This was a similar pattern that one witnessed in the Kerala ISIS case after 21 persons joined the outfit in Afghanistan.
Following the deportation of Nashidul Hamzafar from Afghanistan, he was arrested and interrogated. He said that all he wanted to do was to study and work. However, after coming into contact with one Shihas, also part of the same module, his approach began to change. He gave me clips of Zakir Naik and after listening to them, I was convinced that I should follow the ideology of the ISIS, he also said.
The National Investigation Agency during its probe learnt that Zakir Naik through his Islamic Research Foundation and Peace Education Foundation in Kerala had radicalised a large number of Muslim youth.
The role of Zakir Naik in radicalisation was also found in the Ashfak Majid case. It was found that Naik’s organisation had played a big role in radicalising the youth from both Mumbai as well as Kasargod and neighbouring areas.
Terror training facility:
During the investigation, the police have also learnt that these persons were trying to set up training centres in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. These were similar to the ones that the SIMI had set up at Wagamon in Kerala.
The intention was to train a large number of youth to carry out attacks in different parts of the country. During their discussions, they had decided that land should be identified in the forest areas, so that they could avoid the heat.
Further, it was also found that they had identified safe houses in various states. During the investigation, the police stumbled upon safe houses in Bengaluru, Chennai and Kasargod as well.
One of the key operatives in this module is Mehboob Pasha. He had, along with his nephews and several other radical elements, held several meetings to plot attacks, scout for land and also incite communal violence. Joint commissioner (crime), Bengaluru, Sandeep Patil, said that a case was registered under the UAPA against Pasha and others. Few accused in Bengaluru along with the accused in Chennai were in direct contact with a foreign handler and were planning on creating disturbance.
They were procuring weapons. The accused from Chennai are already involved in similar cases in Tamil Nadu. Few accused are in the custody of Chennai and Delhi Police, Patil also said. While this ISIS module had larger plans of indulging in violent Jihad, one of the key motive was to carry out revenge strikes. The members of this module were closely associated with the accused who had murdered Hindu Munnani leader Sasi Kumar near Chennai around five years ago.
The investigators say that the killing of the policeman was only a continuation of what these persons have been plotting for long. They also had on their hit list, several more police personnel, judges and many Hindu leaders.
This once again brings to the fore the biggest problem that South India is facing and that is radicalisation.
Abhinav Pandya, a Cornell University graduate in public affairs, who also writes for India’s premier think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), said that the study of Islamic radicalisation in India has largely remained on the sidelines. In a country that has such a large population of Muslims, it is commendable that only 104 have joined the ISIS. However, it is just the tip of the ice-berg, he said.
It is not sufficient if one looks only at the radicalisation that is taking place through the online channels. One must look at the problem in the villages as well as the urban areas where radicalisation is taking place through Wahhabi missionaries and Tablighi activity.
Such activity nurtures extremism and hence there is an urgent need to study the ongoing radicalisation. There is an argument that there is no concrete evidence to link radicalisation with Islamic terrorism. However even if one were to de-hyphenate the two, it is still a menace that needs to be tackled. In a multi-cultural and multi-religious country like India, it becomes a dangerous phenomenon when people get swayed by the extremist ideology, Pandya further added.
Last Updated 11:24 AM IST