New Age Islam Edit Bureau
1 February 2016
In Pursuit Of Radicals, Cases of Wrongful Arrest
By Jayprakash S. Naidu and Shahab Ansari
Iran’s Beleaguered Bahá'ís
By KG Suresh
Pathankot Attack Provides India An Opportunity To Strike, Prepare
By Rajendra Abhyankar
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
In Pursuit Of Radicals, Cases of Wrongful Arrest
By Jayprakash S. Naidu and Shahab Ansari
Jan 31, 2016
The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad says it has managed to track sympathisers down before they could venture deep into their pursuit of working for ISIS
The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) said it is deradicalising 10 youth from Maharashtra who are ISIS sympathisers and were drifting towards the agendas of the terror-outfit. They, however, refused to divulge details of their location or whether they were part of the same module wherein Mudabbir Shaikh has been arrested for being the chief recruiter.
The ATS managed to track them down before they could venture deep into their pursuit of working for the ISIS. “With the help of maulanas and community leaders this youth are being deradicalised. We are keeping a watch on other youth as well. We have a lab, like the Mumbai police’s social media lab, which helps them to know the pulse of the city. This also includes searching for inflammatory materials on the Internet,” said an ATS source.
“We are using our ATS lab to keep a tab on online activities of ISIS. We haven’t increased our manpower over the period of three years, but technology has been upgraded. A software is in place which helps us keep check on ISIS activities,” added the ATS source.
The source said 20-year-old Rizwan Ahmed Ali Nawazuddin, alias Khalid, had tried to recruit more youth, who are now under the ATS scanner. It is learnt that Nawazuddin, along with some of the other accused caught in a joint operation by the NIA and ATS, were studying how to make bombs. However, ATS found that they had not received any physical training and were far from reaching the stage of executing terror strikes on Indian soil.
When asked an ATS officer said, “Some materials used for making explosives were found during our crackdown in two states. Their acts violated the UAPA Act. The ISIS had given them four works. One to spreading ISIS ideology and gathering support, second to recruit, third to find more persons who can be sent to ISIS for fighting the war and, finally, for making preparations, including terror attacks, to face any eventuality in India.”
The ATS is investigating the case to find out if the Kalyan module of the ISIS, where four youth had left for Syria, has any links to the present module. They are also checking if they are anywhere linked to Maulana Hafij Mujib (26) from Pusad town in Yavatmal who had been arrested last year for recruiting youth for Al Qaeda. However, the ATS said that this module is different from the module of Mohammad Sirajuddin, an Indian Oil executive who was picked up last year for being an ISIS recruiter. Sirajuddin had managed to indoctrinate a minor girl from Pune who is being de-radicalised.
There have been cases where people have found themselves on the radar of intelligence agencies because of mistaken identities. A glance at some of these cases shows that the wrong source of information is often the reason that sends the investigators to chase wrong people.
“Agencies taking action against anybody depends upon factual matrix of individual case. It is not like police arrests any random person in any case. Nobody in this country would have felt safe if this was the situation,” said advocate Mubin Solkar who has handled several criminal cases, including some matters of mistaken identity.
“Sometimes secret information received by the agencies is either misplaced or is not very accurate due to which the agencies get misled,” he added.
Talking about one such case, he said in 2010 one Abdul Samad was arrested by the ATS and it was widely reported in the press that he is a suspect of the German Bakery blast. Though Abdul Samad was arrested in connection with the seizure of arms and officially it was never stated that he is a suspect in the blast case, but the police interrogated him for the blast case also because somebody like him was noticed in a CCTV footage. During the investigation, it was found that Abdul Samad was travelling at the time of the blast. “The ATS was truthful enough to not arrest him in that case,” Mr Solkar said.
According to advocate Solkar, another example is of Mohammed Afroz, the first person to be arrested under Pota in 2002. He went to London a few times for pilot training, but could not complete his course. “When he came back to India he was afraid to face his family that they would scold him for wasting time and money. So he stayed at a hotel in Vashi and was picked up by the police in one of the routine raids. After going through his passport entries and documents in his possession, they formed the conclusion that he was part of an Al Qaeda module and was going to crash planes in some world renowned sites in UK, US and Australia. They arrested him but could not prove charges and ultimately he was acquitted from all charges,” he said.
Another lawyer Shahid Nadeem Ansari said that sometimes cases of mistaken identity happens with unknown people like last year on Republic Day a group of about 10 youths from Malegaon had came to suburban Kurla in Mumbai because of extended holiday in weekend. They came to their friend’s place where two persons were living on rent. But when people saw new faces coming to that room in Kurla, using high-tech mobile phones and laptops; they suspected them and informed police. “The boys were allowed to go only due verification from Malegaon,” he said.
Iran’s Beleaguered Bahá'ís
By KG Suresh
01 February 2016
Following the dismantling of the sanctions regime, as India prepares to strengthen economic ties with Iran, it must ask itself: As a pluralistic nation, home to persecuted people from all over the world, can it afford to ignore Tehran's discrimination of the Bahá'í minority community?
With the recent lifting of economic sanctions related to Tehran’s nuclear programme, several countries including India are expected to renew and strengthen their strategic and economic cooperation with Iran. Dozens of international corporations and companies are expected to enter into deals worth billions of dollars with the Iranians, which have the potential to vastly improve the livelihood of Iranian citizens.
Following Iran completing its part of the agreement with the P5+1 powers, US President Barack Obama signed executive orders, lifting the sanctions including those called “secondary”, which applied to non-US individuals and entities, such as Indian refineries. The decision has effectively removed sanctions that prevented trading with Iran including with its energy and petrochemical sectors, banking and financial institutions, underwriting services, insurance and re-insurance.
Till 2012, India was Iran’s second largest crude client after China briefly even becoming its top buyer and picking up a whopping 13 per cent. Following subsequent sanctions, India turned to Saudi Arabia and Iraq to make good the shortfall. The US sanctions made it difficult for India to pay for crude purchased from Iran as it was prohibited under the sanctions from dealing with designated Iranian banks. Indian state-owned refineries now owe around $6.5 billion to Tehran.
It is pertinent to mention here that India’s relationship with Iran has been rooted in economic interests and deeply influenced by centuries-old civilisational links. Of late, energy security, access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, and equations with Pakistan has been the key factors shaping New Delhi’s policy towards Tehran. The presence of a large Shia population, which has been a bulwark against fundamentalist Wahhabist elements, too has played a decisive role in impacting India’s dealings with Iran.
It may be recalled that not long back, Iran, Russia and India had come together to strengthen the Northern Alliance’s resistance to the anti-Shia and anti-Iran Taliban in Afghanistan. With Jihadi forces led by the Islamic State on the rise across the world, the time has come for renewed cooperation among these three countries to combat the menace in South and Central Asia.
For India, Iran’s Chabahar port holds immense significance as a strategic response to Chinese involvement in Pakistan’s Gwadar port. Apart from providing access to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan, the port can facilitate the import of natural gas from Iran as also the proposed Iran-Oman-India pipeline.
During his visit to Turkmenistan as part of his tour of the five Central Asian republics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested that an alternative land-sea route via Iran for transporting Turkmen gas should be considered. Observers saw it as a savvy diplomatic gesture aimed at Beijing’s April 2015 agreement with Islamabad to construct most of Pakistan’s portion of the Iran-Pakistan pipeline.
While India-Iran bilateral relations are set to emerge stronger, following the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran, the fact that sanctions related to Iran’s alleged support to international terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and rights abuse remain in place, needs to be highlighted here.
As a pluralistic, multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and multi-religious rainbow nation, which has been a refuge to persecuted people from the world over including Zoroastrians from Persia (Iran), and an epitome of tolerance and diversity, can India afford to ignore the blatant discrimination by the state of Iran against its minorities, including the peace-loving and law-abiding Bahá’í community? This is a million dollar question that cannot be brushed aside.
From building the beautiful Lotus Temple, perhaps independent India’s only major post-1947 landmark in the national capital (the rest were built by the British and Mughals), this small community has been playing a silent but significant role in peace-building and strengthening inter-faith relations. But back home in Iran, it faces unbearable persecution.
Even as the Iranian Government welcomes global business houses, it has kept the doors to Bahá’í business people tightly shut relegating an entire segment of Iranian society to the lowest ranks of the economy. Since 2007, at least 780 incidents of direct economic persecution against Iranian Bahá’ís have been documented by the UN-headquartered Bahá’í International Community, an international non-Governmental organisation representing the members of the Bahá'í faith. These include shop closings, dismissals, the actual or threatened revocation of business licenses, and other actions to suppress the economic activity of Bahá’ís.
The effort to deny young Bahá’ís access to higher education has consigned them to low paying jobs or unemployment. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Bahá’ís have been banned from all forms of employment in the public sector, including any employment in public schools, hospitals, or other Governmental service providers.
Bahá’ís have also been systematically persecuted as a matter of Government policy. During the first decade of this persecution, more than 200 Bahá’í’s were killed or executed, hundreds more were tortured or imprisoned, and tens of thousands lost jobs, access to education, and other rights all because of religious belief.
Government-led attacks on the country’s largest non-Muslim religious minority have re-intensified in the last decade. Since 2005, more than 815 Bahá’ís have been arrested, and the number of Bahá’ís in prison has risen from fewer than five to more than 70. The list of prisoners includes all seven members of a former leadership group serving the Bahá’í community of Iran, who, in 2008, were wrongly sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Although they had done nothing more than peacefully practice their religion, they were convicted on serious but baseless charges including “espionage for Israel,” “insulting religious sanctities” and “propaganda against the system.” They have also been charged with Ifsad Fil-Arz or “corruption on earth.”
Despite all this, there is ample evidence that majority of the Iranian people remain un-persuaded by these attacks, and, in fact, are increasingly willing to stand up for their Bahá’í friends and neighbours. In a symbolic and unprecedented move last April, Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani, a prominent Muslim cleric in Iran, announced that he has gifted to the Bahá’ís of the world an illuminated work of calligraphy of a paragraph from the writings of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-founder of the Bahá’í faith. This move came in the wake of several statements by religious scholars in the Muslim world who have set out alternative interpretations of the teachings of Islam in which tolerance of every religion is upheld by the Quran.
In India, apart from the local Bahá’í community, organisations such as the Human Rights Defense International have been consistently raising the problems faced by the Bahá’ís through seminars and demonstrations. As India and the rest of the world look forward to renew their ties with Iran, it is important that the concerns of the minorities there including Bahá’ís, Christians, and Sunni Muslims are conveyed to the leadership, and the authorities are persuaded to restore to these citizens basic and fundamental human rights that will allow the people to lead a dignified life with self-respect.
KG Suresh is director, Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony, India
Pathankot Attack Provides India an Opportunity To Strike, Prepare
By Rajendra Abhyankar
Feb 01, 2016
A security personnel stands guard on a building at the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Pathankot. (Reuters File Photo)
The India-Pakistan seesaw on terror and dialogue continues. Euphoria over another round of bilateral dialogue comes crashing down following a Pakistan-sponsored terror attack. The attack on a major airbase at Pathankot, close to the international border in the midst of military strike formations, exceeds even the Mumbai attacks in strategic value. After three cross-border attacks the Punjab international border (IB) is now as threatened as the Line of Control in J-K.
Analysts say it is high time that the deep state in Pakistan realised that there was no long-term value in terror attacks to disrupt the possibility of the two countries sitting across a table. Actually, the value of these attacks has multiplied. It certainly achieves its purpose, considering that India shuns dialogue each time. It tests India’s readiness, capability and political will to retaliate — something that we mouth after each attack. Nothing could have pleased the sponsors more than the complete disarray in command, strategy and control in Pathankot while neutralising the perpetrators.
The Pathankot attack created an ideal situation for India to take immediate retaliatory action. Being an exclusively military target, India was well within its rights to act. It would have demonstrated the will of the government to act, and strengthened Narendra Modi domestically, and in dealing with Pakistan. It could have strengthened Nawaz Sharif in exposing the disastrous nature of Pakistan’s civilian-military divide.
Under these circumstances, would it be any surprise should Pakistan escalate matters further and launch a punishing foray across the international border, much as the Chinese did in Tawang in 1962? The ease with which the JeM terrorists entered the Pathankot airbase using the drug-smuggling cross-border networks demonstrates that terrorist groups have built up sufficient equities in India. We can expect them to use them with impunity all along the IB. India’s weak underbelly in Punjab, where many youth are captive to drugs and there’s rampant penetration by the BSF, is a recipe for disaster.
With sleeper cells of the Indian Mujahideen, and arrests of Islamic State adherents in cities and towns the hypothetical situation of the Pakistan Army crossing the IB to teach India a lesson has become real. In such an eventuality how can Indian forces stop such an advance?
In 1962 the Chinese taught us a lesson we cannot ignore. The Pakistan Army’s seizing of 108 bunkers at Kargil was not heeded as a wake-up call. Pathankot forces us to review our crisis management procedures with well-thought out scenario-building to delineate responsibilities for command, control and coordination between our forces covering the international border apart from the LoC.
Rajendra Abhyankar, a former diplomat, teaches at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington