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Communal riots and the Indian Mujahideen

By Bibhu Prasad Routray
November 11, 2013 11:45 IST
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There are many reasons why one joins a terrorist outfit. But to point at one factor as the single most crucial one to the formation and actions of the Indian Mujahideen is a political explanation, not strategic, says Bibhu Prasad Routray.

Do communal riots send the young and old to become cadres of a terrorist outfit? Yes, they do, just as the way joblessness, unemployment, slap of a father, instigation of peers, desire to do something different, and even sexual pleasure awaiting a post-death life do.

There are many more reasons. Thus, to point at one factor as the single most crucial one to the formation and actions of Indian Mujahideen is a political explanation, not strategic.

There are several fundamental problems in pushing the communal riots theory, in both the conceptual as well as operational levels. Let me cite the following four.

One, this theory attaches too much importance to terrorist propaganda material. A group's declarations, through its manifestos, of its animosity towards the Hindus and their places of worship, or the judiciary, are only a political statement. And moreover, issued in the aftermath (not before) an attack, these statements are mostly a justification of particular terrorist violence, and not so much of a raison d'etre of its existence. 

Second, such a view undermines the significance of the recruitment process. Terrorist leaders take enormous efforts -- personal, organisational as well as recourse of technical means -- to find young and not so young men who could be recruited into the outfit. Only a few pass through the screening process.

Given that recruitment is a painstaking process, the number of terrorists has always remained small, although with little implications on their capacities to carry out attacks. Among the recruited are also petty criminals and history-sheeters, who are excellent logistical assets for the outfit, even while motivationally faltering. The complicated recruitment process that brings together various discontents under one roof and gives them a unidirectional shape, is too crucial to be neglected in any analysis.

Third, the communal riots theory also downplays the subversive efforts of the foreign agencies and the impact of online radicalisation processes, in not just giving shape and wherewithal to the outfit, but having an overwhelming influence over the outfit's plan of action. Can we deny the statement that without Pakistani assistance the IM would not have reached its current level of efficiency? Just because IM’s operations head Yasin Bhatkal claimed that they are a purely Indian organisation and he refused to train in Pakistan, are we to forget that the top leadership is based in foreign locations and wants to make IM a part of the Al Qaeda one day?

Fourth, as commentaries are never complete without some real life instances, let me cite the examples of two remarkable individuals, incidentally both Muslims and who are not members of the IM.

First, the 70-year-old father Ataullah Ansari, a resident of Dhurva village in Ranchi, Jharkhand. Ansari is the father of Ainul Ansari alias Tarique, the IM cadre involved in the October 27 Patna blasts who died of his injuries. Ataullah Ansari refused to claim the body of his son. He told the media, ‘After I heard that he was involved in terror act and seriously injured, I announced that he was not my son... where is the question of claiming his body?’

Second, 52-year old Jabir Ansari, a resident of Chkala village in Ranchi. His son, Muzibullah Ansari, an IM cadre suspected to be involved in the Patna blasts is currently on the run. Jabi Ansari told his son is ‘a major blot for my ancestral village of Chakla and my country. I want each and every person of Chakla to be alert and aid the police. I don’t know where my son is. He left home on October 19. If I get a clue of his whereabouts, I will inform the police.’

The communal riots theory disrespects the innocence and patriotism of these men. There are millions of such men who do not end up in terrorist camps in the aftermath of communal riots.

Dr Bibhu Prasad Routray, a security analyst, served as a deputy director in the National Security Council Secretariat, New Delhi. He can be contacted at

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Bibhu Prasad Routray