Mid-November, after the Paris attacks Indian Home Ministry issued a warning to all the State Police Chiefs about ISIS planning a terror strike in India. The statement said that though ISIS has not been able to establish a strong direct presence in India but piggybacking on other terrorists groups might be part of their strategy in carrying out ISIS sponsored strikes.
So, let’s understand whether ISIS has really arrived in India? On what basis Indian government openly claims with credence that the number of ISIS recruits from India is only 23?
We have got down to the reasons why this malice has not grown in India as rapidly as predicted.
1) Focus on the ideology and not on Individuals
Indian ministry and security agencies have realized that fighting soldiers won’t help until the cancer i.e. the ideology is taken care of. Talking to elders, bringing religious groups together and condemnation of such attacks by leaders has helped in keeping a check on the followers.
In a recent instance, there were media reports that ISIS is growing in India which has been thrashed unanimously by AIMMM (Umbrella body of Indian Muslim organizations) after their working committee meeting.
2) Social media tracing
Cyber watchfulness and tip offs from other international cyber agencies has helped Indian intelligence to keep a track of suspected pro ISIS activities. It also proved immensely helpful in keeping an eye over radicalization, attempts made by ISIS to reach out on social media platforms and also interception of people who have the intentions of flying to Dubai or Iraq to join ISIS by migrating to Syria.
Initially four youths from Maharashtra went to join IS, out of which two were reportedly killed and one was brought back to India. Another six to eight youths have been stopped from different parts of the country just in the nick of time as they were about to leave.
3) Approach towards those intercepted
The approach towards those arrested has differed on case to case basis. In two of the cases, no FIRs were filed and security agencies along with elders from community counselled the youths and placed them under close watch. The directive was clear that punishment doesn’t always prove to be deterrent.
4) Ground level intelligence
If we notice, number of major terror strikes have gone down this year and that is not by India’s good fortune. It’s primarily because Indian intelligence agencies have been on their toes in taking steps to curb such activities. They have been alert on all suspicious moves which has helped gain control.
5) Minimal ISIS presence in sub-continent
The one fact which has helped India a lot is that ISIS has not yet established itself in Indian sub-continent. There are reports which tell that setting up its offshoot in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh is on cards which has not happened till now.
The picture seems rosy and the government is optimistic. But, the war against ISIS has just begun and the radicalization would shoot up once it plans to extend base in the sub-continent. We hope that the stern action of Indian agencies will continue against the perpetrators and they would be prepared well in advance before the tornado hits our coast.