Did IS use India for the Colombo blasts?
India has been exerting tremendous pressure on China, the USA and Europe for having Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar declared a terrorist by the UN, and has succeeded. While under the Masood obsession, India ignored the lurking presence of Islamic State affiliates in several of its states.
Sri Lankan investigations reveal that the Easter Sunday suicide bombers were radicalised in India. Sri Lanka hauled up 116 suspects, including a Tamil-medium teacher and a school principal with 50 SIM cards. Those arrested confessed to having been tutored by Islamic-State moles in Tamil Nadu.
Posters and social media postings in native Indian languages confirmed that the IS does have networks in several Indian states. A pro- IS Telegram channel released a poster in Bengali which reads read: “Shighroi Aschhe [coming soon], Inshallah. The poster carried a logo of a group called Al-Mursalat. Some social posts in Sinhala appeared in Tamil Nadu. Instead of taking notice of IS propaganda, the BJP-led government has been exploiting the matter for political advantage. BJP leader Vijayvargiya in West Bengal alleged, “If Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stays, the Islamic State can enter West Bengal anytime.”
India shrugs off the allegation saying that IS adherents in India are a spill-over of Bangladesh’s new Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen.
IS India not only imparts motivational training to volunteers but also equips them with the necessary kit to carry out explosions. Besides imparting ideological training, the IS in India equips fresh recruits with improvised-explosive devices
Call Detail Records of Sri Lankan terror- mastermind Zaharan Hashim indicated his links with IS adherents across India, including R Ashiq, Ismail, Salavuddin, Sadiq, Ali, Shahul Hameed, and Shamsuddin. In a video, Hashim is seen exhorting Muslims from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Sri Lanka to wage jihad. Hashim and another Sri Lanka bomber, Mohammad Azaan, had travelled to India in 2017 and 2018 to discuss the plans of IS. By 2013, India knew that its ‘missing’ citizens were fighting alongside IS in Syria. It remained unruffled even until 2014 when IS kidnapped 39 ‘traitor’ Indians in Iraq and executed them. India’s RAW remained listless to an IS map of the Khorasan Caliphate showing engulfing some Indian territory. BBC reporter Andrew Hosken, who included the map in his 2015 book Empire of Fear: Inside the Islamic State said IS wants “to take over all of what they see as the Islamic world”. India arrested about a hundred IS suspects while they returned to India after fall of IS’s last stronghold Baghouz in Iraq.
India is a fertile ground for ISIS cultivators because of the persecution of Muslims. Indian Muslims have less than two per cent parliamentary representation though they are about 14 per cent of the Indian population.
The Muslim in India are about 172 million (14.2%), the second largest religious community, according to the 2011 census. The Muslim is a feeble voice within the parliament and without. The BJP gave less than two per cent of its tickets to Muslim candidates. Still, none of them were elected.
The 2014 Lok Sabha had the lowest share of Muslim MPs in India. So it was despite increase in share of Muslim population in India from 13.4% to 14.2% between 2001 and 2011.
Names of about one-fourth of the eligible Muslim voters were deleted from the voters’ list with impunity. In Karnataka alone, the names of 6.6 million people were missing from the electoral list. Later, about 1.2 million were re-enlisted.
The Muslim population increased. Yet, the number of Muslim voters declined over the years. Obviously, the undercounting and deletion from voters’ list was actuated by planned discrimination, political exclusion, and total elimination. A caricature of Article 326 of India’s Constitution?
Muslims experience low literacy and high poverty rates, and Hindu-Muslim violence has claimed a disproportionate number of Muslim lives. Are Muslims marginalized in India?
The Muslim literacy rate ranks well below the national average and Muslim poverty rates are only slightly higher than low-caste Hindus, according to a November 2006 government report. Muslims make up 13.4 percent of India’s population, but hold less than 5 per cent of government posts and make up only four per cent of the undergraduate student body in India’s elite universities.
Practically, Muslims, under Hindu influence, are divided into three groups of Indian Muslims—ashraf, ajlaf, and arzal. The ashrafs are upper-class Muslims of Arab ancestry. Ajlafs are Hindus who converted to Islam to escape persecution, and arzals, correlate to the lowest caste of Hindus (harijans). The November 2006 Sachar Report made recommendations to ameliorate the lot of the Indian Muslim. University of Chicago Professor Steven Wilkinson says, “The conclusions aren’t very revolutionary and I wouldn’t expect much in the way of policy change from it.” The professor of political science focuses on ethnic politics in India. Wilkinson says the report fails to offer a clear analysis of the nature of Muslim marginalization, and leaves in question whether solutions should focus on Muslims or general public poverty alleviation.
Hard-line Hindu nationalists argue Indian Muslims (as well as Christians) converted from Hinduism, should reconvert to the majority religion. The ruling BJP seeks to win votes proposing to build a temple on the site of a former mosque in Ayodhya, a city in India’s most populous and politically important state of Uttar Pradesh.
IS India not only imparts motivational training to volunteers but also equips them with the necessary kit to carry out explosions. Besides imparting ideological training, the IS in India equips fresh recruits with improvised-explosive devices. Unreliability of dry-battery cells in IEDs forced the IS to opt for solar cells. The study, conducted by Conflict Armament Research (Europe), has confirmed that Indian solar-cell and detonator-producing industries are a big exporter to the IS importers abroad. To bypass customs surveillance, Indian companies export the hardware through intermediaries. The study revealed, ‘Seven Indian companies figure in a list of 51 commercial entities from 20 countries that are involved in the supply chain of over 700 components used by the Islamic State to construct IEDs. The Indian firms meet the bulk of the IS’s demand for detonators, detonating cords, safety fuses, cables, wires, and other electronic components. India’s trade laws allow export of such components. The companies include Solar Industries, Economic Explosives, Premier Explosives, Ideal Explosives, and Chamundi. Some countries disowned the blame, saying the IS has more convenient Nokia 105 mobile phone for remote detonation. Indian products came to light when seized during battles in the Iraqi towns of al Rabia, Kirkuk, Mosul, and Tikrit and the Syrian town of Kobani.
Let India stop politicising Masood Azhar and focus on the IS threat. India needs to revamp its attitude to the menace before it is too late.