Begin typing your search...

Why India has to counter 'radicalisation' at home

Major challenge for the country is to safeguard its internal security against the threats of terrorism

Why India has to counter ‘radicalisation’ at home

Why India has to counter ‘radicalisation’ at home

The G20 Presidency offers India a rare opportunity of rising as a leading contributor to the global recovery from the Covid pandemic, as an advocate of collective action in tackling environmental challenges and climate change, and as an active participant in the efforts to pull the world out of economic stagnation in general and the food and energy crisis caused by the Ukraine-Russia military conflict in particular.

India's sane voice on various global issues has been heard and appreciated by the world community and there is little doubt that while steering the G20 Presidency through the year ahead, India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi would further strengthen its position as a major world power and as a trustworthy global counsel.

The country's handling of economic development has served our national interests well, however, a major challenge is to safeguard our internal security against the threats of terrorism and radicalisation.

Although the democratic world is united against the new faith-based terror, India is left on its own to strategise against the threats posed by the Sino-Pak alliance working specifically against the country. The two adversaries of India are our neighbours as well, and apart from the mischief they can cause on the borders, they have every intention of using an opportunity of disturbing India's internal peace and cohesion. India has to take preventive measures on multiple fronts to deal with this situation. India is now militarily prepared to respond to any Chinese aggressiveness on LAC particularly in eastern Ladakh and is an active partner in the US-led Quad to work for 'rules-based order' in the Indo-Pacific and strategically counter Chinese designs against India on the marine front.

In regard to Pakistan, India wields the deterrent of a 'surgical strike' against any Pak mischief on LoC or International Border. Pak ISI is now more determined to encourage 'radicalisation' for instigating communal militancy in India and fomenting faith-based terrorism as its upshot. China is extending full support to Pakistan in the latter's covert operations in Kashmir and Punjab. To deal with the likely accentuation of the threat from Islamic radical outfits of Pak-Afghan belt, India has among other foreign policy initiatives, struck close bonds with Central Asian Republics (CARs) through meetings held by our NSA with his counterparts from these countries, at Delhi. These neighbours of Afghanistan, with predominantly Muslim population are firmly opposed to radicalisation and extremism and want to strengthen India's hands in countering the spread of terror in the name of Islam.

Apart from the global initiatives, however, India needs to take comprehensive steps to strengthen our internal security. Many of these suggest themselves.

First, mobilisation of leaders and institutions of the Muslim minority is required to get them to expressly declare that in democratic India - run on the triple guarantee of 'one man one vote', equal opportunity to everybody for economic development and the same protection of law for all citizens - there was no room for advocacy of Jehad.

India can follow up on the statement of R20- the forum launched by Indonesia at Bali in the run up to G20- that favoured inter-faith dialogue, presented Islam as a religion of peace and sought to promote inter-religious harmony and respect for all faiths. This meet firmly rejected radicalisation.

The timely initiative of India's NSA to convene the bilateral security dialogue with his Indonesian counterpart at Delhi, to which Ulema and spokespersons of other religions from both sides were also invited, has laid the turf for a concerted effort in India - to get institutions like Darul Uloom Deoband and Nadwatul Ulema Lucknow to call for inter-faith harmony, highlight the commitment of Islam to peace and disapprove of radicalisation and terrorism.

Darul Uloom is a product of the unsuccessful Jehad that the Wahabi Ulema had launched against the British in the mid-Nineteenth century but after Independence this institution recognised India as a land of peace where Hindus and Muslims could live in harmony in a democratic dispensation. It carries an anti-West legacy however, and places emphasis on teaching of pure Islam in its Madrasas without favouring any call for Jehad.

The Hanafi Darul Uloom and the pro-Saudi Nadwatul subscribing to Ahle Hadis should be willing to record their opposition to 'radicalisation' in India in the interest of the minority community.

Secondly, the state must reach out to families falling victim to adversary's planned attempt to indoctrinate vulnerable youth for recruiting them to the fold of terrorism and to formulate effective de-radicalisation programmes with the help of official and non-governmental resources. This is particularly important in Kashmir where encouragement to entrepreneurship and startups will help to insulate the youth from subversive influences beamed at them from outside. Any new business started with the state's help should employ both Muslims and non-Muslims to make the point against separatism and demonstrate an assimilative approach - matching the scenario in the rest of the country.

Policemen of Kashmir should live among the people - in clusters if necessary - so that they look different from the heavily armed contingent of para-military forces deployed in the state specifically for pursuing Intelligence-based counter-terror operations. The Thana Police in J&K must appear to be more on the side of the law-abiding Kashmiris. This is necessary for enhancing the outreach of the state to the families.

Thirdly, the biggest new challenge to internal security is the rise of social media and cyber space as a powerful instrument of combat and as a weapon for 'information warfare'. India's Intelligence set up has stepped up social media scan and initiated a slew of measures for cyber security with the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) playing a prime role in studying new threats and researching for cyber security solutions.

Social media is a public platform available also to the enemy not only for running 'covert' operations for creating sleeper cells for terrorism but for instigating radicalisation with the aim of recruiting 'lone wolves' as well. Funding a 'low cost war' against India is not difficult for Pakistan. Terrorism has pushed the work of Intelligence gathering and prompt response to information, much closer to the ground. Time has come for the Central Intelligence agencies to have functional oversight on District Intelligence Units(DIUs) for the purposes of both 'information' and 'action' on threats to internal security. State is the lead player in the management of law & order while the Centre has the overarching role in the maintenance of internal security.

The fourth task area is the inter-agency coordination that is constantly being improved upon, under the watchful eye of the National Security Advisor.

The NSCS is the organisation at the national apex that not only prepares national security estimates - the function of Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee has now become a part of it - but also ensures coordinated response to an external or internal threat. The NSA in the fitness of things now chairs the Strategic Policy Group(SPG) that worked under the Cabinet Secretary earlier. While coordination among the Intelligence agencies is a must, the added requirement now is to ensure that information of national security concern emanating from the probes into the Economic offences was promptly shared with the former.

Since national security is now inseparable from economic security, the enemy is focused also on damaging the target country economically - as part of the 'proxy war' that had replaced 'open warfare' in the post-Cold War era. It is known that Mumbai was the target of 26/11 as it is the financial capital of India. The entire gamut of security of establishments of strategic importance, information systems on which key sectors of the nation are run and cyber security protocols for data protection, has acquired a new found importance and there has to be a centralised oversight on these functions.

And finally, since security of the nation encompasses security of its people, it follows that every citizen ought to be prepared to contribute to it- national security should not be deemed to be the responsibility of the government alone. The concept of Fusion Centre evolved by Homeland Security in US is said to have provided for flow of information from the general public. This will happen if there is an effort to spread awareness of the country's security situation far and wide and project this as a part of the duty of patriotic citizens indicated by our Constitution itself.

For India, internal security has assumed far greater importance because of the fact that the two adversaries of India on the borders are working in collusion to cause problems on our domestic front by exploiting communal, socio-economic and regional issues and encouraging anti-India narratives built by civil society forces often in conjunction with hostile lobbies outside.

(The writer is a former Director of

Intelligence Bureau. The views expressed are personal)

Dc Pathak
Next Story
Share it