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RADICALISATION AND CONVERSIONS – A SCOURGE

And, how are we talking of Universal Civil Code when we continue with caste, creed and reservations and special privileges to the reserved categories and minorities and cannot muster guts to regulate population growth? What is this noise about the faster growth rate Muslim population overtaking Hindus in India? Why can’t we institute a Population Control Law and fine those having more than two kids?

There are no universal definitions for radicalisation, conversions, or for that matter, terrorism. Whereas radicalisation and terrorism are intrinsically linked, conversions also have a connection with these two though not always; in some cases, it may be only to spread the religious ideology or increase the sphere of political influence.

Radicalisation And Extremism

A UNESCO report titled ‘Impact of the Internet and Social Media on Youth and violent Extremism’, discusses difficulties of defining radicalisation; drawing a distinction between the process of radicalisation, the process of violent radicalisation and acts of violence. The report defines radicalisation by the following three stages: first, individual’s search for fundamental meaning – origin and return to a root ideology; second, individual as part of a group’s adopting violent expansion of root ideologies and objectives, and; third, polarisation of the social space and collective construction of a threatened ideal ‘us’ against ‘them,’ where the others are dehumanised by a process of scapegoating.

A New York Police Department (NYPD) report which examined 11 in-depth case studies of Al Qaida-influenced radicalisation and terrorism identified four phases: pre-radicalisation, self-identification, indoctrination, and jihadisation. There are many causes of radicalisation, which include economic, social, political, psychological, historical and ideological conditions that provide both the context and the driving forces leading individuals and groups to become radicalised.

Violent Radicalisation

The mention of ‘violent radicalisation’ in the UNESCO report is drawn from the term ‘violent extremism’ coined by the West. It is established that radicalisation increased wherever US-NATO forces have been deployed against terrorist organisations. They acted against ‘violent extremism’ but ignored radicalisation for two reasons: first, these very terrorist organisations were also used to further US-NATO national interests, and; second, more radicalisation meant more violence, conflict, and wars, which

Had they used aerial spraying, they had enough Sarin to kill one million Tokyoites. Could you classify members of these cults as non-violent extremists before the attack?

How can cyber extremists be classified ‘before’ the cyber-attack to cripple critical infrastructure? Imagine the consequences of a prolonged cyber-attack on the power grid of a nuclear reactor, reducing the critical function of cooling of the backup generators that would get overheated and forced to periodically switch off. The fact is there are no ‘good’ (non-violent) and ‘bad’ (violent) extremists / terrorists.

Islamists have a tested model of contact with different vulnerable and extremist individuals through online messaging services or social media platforms, manipulating boosted western arms industry and in turn, their economies.

How can one differentiate between extremism / terrorism and violent extremism? The Sarin Gas attack on the Tokyo Subway on 20 March 1995 was classified as an act of “violent extremism” perpetrated by the Aum Shinrikyo Cult. Sarin was released on several lines of Tokyo Metro, killing 13, severely injuring 50 and causing temporary vision loss to some 1,000 people. The Cult had two remote-controlled helicopters but both crashed in trial flying. They even smuggled in a Russian Mi-8 helicopter part-by-part that was yet to be assembled. them into terror acts. Jailed extremists also try recruiting violent criminals into radical groups for undertaking terror attacks once released. Right-wing ideologies also are radicalising individuals – and the same goes for left-wing ideologies.

Politico-Asymmetric Radicalisation

One prominent example of this is China. The Ministry of Foreign Liaison under China’s Communist Party (CCP), set up during Mao Zedong’s time, recruited and supported Maoist groups in Nepal, Burma (now Myanmar), the New People’s Army of Philippines, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Japanese Red Army, and Shining Path in Peru. Nepal’s Maoists are linked with the Maoists in India.

Educational Radicalisation

Why is Pakistan so radicalised? In 2008, Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, wrote: “The promotion of militarism in Pakistan’s schools, colleges and universities has had a profound effect on young people. Militant jihad has become a part of the culture in college and university campuses, with armed groups inviting students for jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan. The immediate future of Pakistan looks grim, as increasing numbers of mullahs are creating cults around themselves and seizing control over the minds of their worshippers. It may yet be possible to roll back the Islamist laws and institutions that have corroded Pakistani society for over 30 years….but political parties, government officials, and yes, even “generals will have to embrace democracy, in both word and deed.”

The article titled ‘A Monstrous Experiment’ in the Daily Times of Pakistan published on 11 May 2009, read: There are thousands of madrassas spread all over Pakistan’s urban centres that are producing millions of neo-drones … “Take a little boy and incarcerate him in a remote madrassa. Indoctrinate him with a distorted version of a religion and tell him that he does not belong to this world. Teach him about the fanciful world that awaits him in heaven, and that in order to attain that he has to destroy everything that stands in his way, including his own body…… this is a monstrous experiment in brainwashing and it is on a par with, if not worse than, Nazi Germany’s eugenics….”

Conversions

Conversion is the adoption of a set of beliefs identified with one particular religious denomination to the exclusion of others. This can be within the same religion also, for example, from Baptist to Catholic in Christianity or from Sunni to Shia in Islam. Conversion can be for different reasons ranging from active conversion by free choice due to a change in beliefs, secondary conversion, deathbed conversion, conversion for convenience, marital conversion, and forced conversion.

Over centuries, Islam and Christianity have indulged in maximum conversions. Maximum terrorist organisations in the world today are Muslims, who continue to undertake forced conversions. As per the 2020 Global Terrorism Index (GTI), the top 10 terrorism-afflicted countries in descending order of ranking are: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, India, Democratic Republic of Congo and Philippines. Of these, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, Somalia and Yemen are in a state of war. Other than India and the Philippines, the others are Muslim countries.

Behind forcible conversions to Islam lies the ideology to establish a Global Islamic Caliphate. Radical countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan also continue practicing forces conversions. Radical Islamists call on all Muslims to have as many children as possible to increase the Muslim population. The concept of ‘Love Jihad’ also is behind this thinking.

In the case of Christianity, conversions were predominantly through Crusades of yore, sanctioned by the Church; fighting against the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, Muslims and pagans, and to recover Jerusalem. Dozens of smaller crusades were also launched at local levels. In modern times, conversion to Christianity is being done through missionaries running schools, hospitals and other welfare activities.

The Indian Scene

The enormous amount of external funds from multiple sources enter India through multiple avenues for spreading Islam and Christianity, conversions, and for terrorist actions. But does India know how to handle this scourge? It obviously does not, as the succeeding paragraphs would show.

As on date, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has banned 39 terrorist organisations under Section 35 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967. But the Popular Front of India (PFI) is not banned despite having an armed wing, cadres caught crossing into POK from Kupwara in J&K in 2005, known links with the Maoists, complicity in the Delhi riots, and links with the recent hijab controversy – not banned due to vote calculations?

In Jammu and Kashmir, local Islamist politicians on the behest of Pakistan quietly replaced the Sufi teachers in educational institutions (particularly in Kashmir Valley), with hardcore Wahabi teachers. This infused radicalisation in children, reinforced by Wahabi clerics sermonising regularly in mosques. Madrassas pan India, including ones run by Deobandis, have not been integrated into the national education system – why?

In the case of Christianity, the missionaries reached those areas where the government administration was largely defunct. Even today, there are / were no governments facilities, say in the 72,000 sq km Dandakaranya Forest in the Maoist belt or certain regions in the northeast though the Ramakrishna Mission has reached out in these areas. The Hindu culture of shoodras (untouchables) in the Varna System also led many of these individuals converting to Islam or Christianity for earning respect in society. Why is India still ranked 131 out of 189 countries in the 2021 Human Development Index report even 74 years after Independence?

States like Karnataka, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh have anti-conversion laws but these are seen as intimidating minorities. Besides, litigation can continue endlessly given the functioning of our Courts. India’s Draft Anti-Conversion Law criminalises conversion secured either by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, or allurement, or by any other fraudulent means or by the promise of marriage. It defines allurement as including an offer of any temptation that might take the nature not only of gifts in the form of money but also offers of free education or a better lifestyle.

Already riddled with caste and reservations, religion has become a major election issue in India. The media is on fire about conversions and posts on social media, say Muslims will outnumber Hindus in India. Calls for Muslim genocide at the Dharma Sansad at Haridwar in December 2021 were not condemned by the state or the centre. Similarly,anti-Hindu sloganeering and calls are being made by Muslim clerics and political leaders.

The attacks on Christians were witnessed a few weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the Pope at the Vatican and invited him to India. On 25 December 2021, FCRA application of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity was rejected; that too by the MHA headed by Amit Shah – the Minister of Cooperation. The decision was eventually reversed not because the Chief Minister of Odisha directed that Missionaries of Charity should not run short of finances and that the Chief Minister’s Fund can be used if required, but because the issue came up in the British Parliament.

On 24 February 2022, Shalini Maria Lawrence, a Christian activist from Tamil Nadu, openly called for religious conversions “to stop BJP’s growth” in the state. On 25 February, 19-year-old Pooja of Bajrang Dal, publicly called for genocide against those wanting hijab, saying, “If you ask for water, Indians will give you juice. If you ask for milk, we’ll give you buttermilk. But, if you want the hijab all over India, we will chop you (Muslims) all with Shivaji’s sword.”

The country is witnessing polarising as never before – all because of politics. A former diplomat who had served as foreign secretary and is a senior fellow at the Centre of Policy Research wrote: The Dharma Sansad is “only the latest in a series of intemperate and vulgar attacks against minorities that, if unchecked, may lead to an irreversible fragmentation and disintegration of the Indian Union”. “If these vile threats are tolerated and go unpunished and unchecked, the very idea of India that we have inherited and nourished through many challenges will cease to exist. This is a moment of peril for all Indians.”

The Shaheen Bagh blockade was deliberately allowed to continue for 100 days because of politics. The same goes for the hijab – colleges could have been simply told to adhere to the dress code laid down by them. On becoming President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi summoned the radical leaders and clerics and told them bluntly that one billion Muslims in the world cannot kill the six billion non- Muslims and vice versa. He shut down the hardcore seminaries and jailed their preachers. Can we learn something from Sisi?

The universal application of syllabi in schools is the need of the hour in India as almost all schools backed by religious organisations have skewed syllabi, making the youth extra emotional and radical instead of becoming balanced and rational. And, how are we talking of Universal Civil Code when we continue with caste, creed and reservations and special privileges to the reserved categories and minorities and cannot muster guts to regulate population growth? What is this noise about the faster growth rate Muslim population overtaking Hindus in India? Why can’t we institute a Population Control Law and fine those having more than two kids?

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