Amidst increasing attempts by terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to lure Indians into its fold, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday held a meeting with top Muslim clerics and sought their cooperation to check the growing tentacles of the dreaded group among Muslim youth.
The hour-long meeting, also attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and senior home ministry officials, apprised the Muslim clerics about activities of the West Asian terrorist group and its efforts to attract Indian youth to its fold.
The home minister sought the cooperation of the clerics who offered all help to the government in this regard, official sources said.
The issues that were discussed included misuse of social media, sources of impetus that attract persons, especially youth, to the ISIS, the growth of ISIS influence in India’s neighbourhood and the best possible law enforcement response.
Those who attended the meeting include Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind’s Maulana Arshad Madani, Maulana Abdul Wahid Hussain Chisti of Ajmer Sharif, Asghar Ali Imam Mehdi of Jamiat Ahle Hadees, Tauqeer Raza Khan, Rafiq Warshiq, Shia leader Maulana Syed Kalbe Jawad Qalbe Jawaid, Kamal Farooqi, Mushafa Faruqi besides others.
The need for appropriate welfare schemes for minorities, social media strategies to be followed, especially in the area of information technology were also discussed threadbare.
In his remarks, the home minister said India’s traditions and family values will overcome such nefarious designs of terrorist groups and that while the traction that the IS has got in India is extremely limited, and almost insignificant in comparison to other countries, there is a need to keep up vigil on all fronts, and not let down the guard in any manner.
This was for the first time that the Home Minister had a meeting with Muslim clerics on the issue of ISIS.
Last fortnight, the home minister had a meeting with top officials of central intelligence and investigative agencies and police of 13 states and discussed steps to check the growing influence of ISIS among youngsters through social media and other sources.
Singh had reviewed the situation arising out of some Indian youths getting attracted towards the ISIS on several occasions in the past and how to deal with the challenge.
The home minister had also said a large number of people and most Muslim organisations in India had come out against both ISIS and other forms of terrorism.
According to Indian intelligence agencies, a total of 23 Indians have so far joined the ISIS of whom six were reportedly killed in different incidents in Iraq and Syria.
Among the 23 are two absconding members of the banned Indian Mujahideen who had gone from their hideouts in Pakistan.
The dead were identified as Athif Vaseem Mohammad (Adilabad, Telangana), Mohammad Umar Subhan (Bengaluru), Maulana Abdul Kadir Sultan Armar (Bhatkal, Karnataka), Saheem Farooque Tanki (Thane), Faiz Masood (Bengaluru) and Mohammad Sajid alias Bada Sajid (Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh).
Around 150 Indians are under surveillance for their alleged online links with the ISIS.
As many as 30 other Indians, who were radicalised by ISIS elements, were prevented from travelling to the conflict zone in West Asia.
Among those who are currently fighting for the ISIS include two youths from Kalyan near Mumbai, an Australia-based Kashmiri, one youth from Telangana, one from Karnataka, one Oman-based Indian and another Singapore-based Indian.
Several Indians, who were trying to recruit youths into the ISIS, were deported from friendly countries, including the United Arab Emirates, recently.