WINDOW ON SOUTH ASIA

Published:  12:11 AM, 25 March 2020 Last Update: 12:16 AM, 25 March 2020

Radical groups hands suspected in riots in India

Radical groups hands suspected in riots in India

India and Indonesia have been enjoying excellent and most harmonious relations since long particularly during the time Indonesia was fighting for its independence from the Dutch rule  under Sukarno, the first President  and Indian aviation pioneer and tall political figure Biju Patnaik flew him in the latter's plane.

The other features between the two countries bonhomie is reflected in the Bandung conference of 1955 where the Asian and African leaders participated.

Sadly today, India and Indonesia are reeling under a new low in their bilateral relationship following Indonesian government's blatant allegations and adverse comments against India in the wake of last month's communal riots in Delhi and Indonesia being the largest Muslim country expressed sympathy for the Muslims affected in the communal conflict calling for their safety and security.

As a sovereign and independent country, such allegations didn't augur well with India which clarified its position in no uncertain terms.

 Reacting to the riots, prompted and supported by some radical Islamic groups, a massive protest demonstration was held in front of the Indian Embassy in Jakarta leading to the Indian Ambassador seeking for safety of the diplomatic staff in Jakarta as well as for the Indian consulate, Medan.

The Indonesian foreign ministry, on its part, assured India of all security measures lest its interests were affected. But the ties were strained by such acts and it is likely to take considerable time to repair the damage.

This apart, Indian intelligence sources also indicated that Indonesian Islamic NGO which is widely believed to be highly radicalized, funneled around US dollars 33,802 for funding of one group of  rioters . NGO called, Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT), has confirmed links with Pakistani terror group, Lashkar e Toiba (Let), and had known connections with Hafeez Sayeed.

This can give an idea about its belief in religious extremism and the knowledgeable security analysts, therefore, do not rule out the possibility of ACT monetary help to the rioters of Delhi. ACT had also come to light fanning communal riots in Bangladesh.

ACT, however, was quick to distance itself from the funding allegations clarifying that it has been extending humanitarian assistance to the Muslims in India since 2017 in terms of clothing, shelter, emergency supplies etc. This religious group comprising zealots, had also been helping the IS cause in Syria in the name of providing relief supplies to the needy and widows of the victims. This does not require any more elaboration on its role.

Indonesia was struck by a deadly terror strike in Bali in 2002 and the remnants of the terror group are still simmering to strike parts of Indonesia at an opportune moment. The Widodo led government seems serious to control a further spike in fundamentalist trait and eventual pattern of terror in the country but a lot still needs to be done.

This looks more imperative as ever since the IS had emerged triumphant in parts of Syria after overrunning Iraqi strongholds. A very large number of Indonesians had joined the IS cadres and fought and many have not returned as yet. The pattern was consistent as recruitment through cyber space was an ongoing process.

In December 2016, there were intermittent bombings in areas of Indonesia and a lot of bomb making manuals received from the IS headquarters in addition to damaging incriminating material were recovered. With such deeply embedded radicalized activities, ATC's complicity in riots allegedly through funding and indoctrination is not at all surprising.

The Indonesian government, instead of charging India for the riots in Delhi should do well in containing its own spiraling trend of Islamic fanaticism. Only on last Friday, despite the ban on congregation in mosques, several hundreds gathered to pray in Al Azhar great mosque and Nurul Yasin mosque.

It's thus seen that the state doesn't have any control over the religious sentiments and such bigotry groups have the gumption to defy the government directives to beat the coronavirus pandemic. In the light of this, ACT or any other group's attempts to radicalize Indian Muslims calls for a close watch.

Dwelling on Delhi riots and complicity of vested quarters, the name of Popular Front of India (PFI) comes to the fore for its alleged involvement in the UP communal riots after promulgation of the CAA. Subsequently, many PFI activists were also jailed for their undesirable activities.

Though PFI has always been on a denial mode for its name in the communal clashes and abetment, its track record in the state of Kerala has been far from encouraging. It had worked under different names but its agenda remained constant. Its negative role in the Marad riots of 2003 is still fresh in memory. It was once NDF and then transformed itself to PDF. Its cases of extortion and other heinous criminal offences.

With a tainted past, PFI tries to remain afloat in communal mainstream by resorting to undesirable activities. Although PFI leadership underscores the need for establishing an egalitarian society in India, it's wholly utopian. This is proved by the fact that it's far from the tenets of equality, justice and secularism as claimed quite often. 

There is not a single non Muslim in its Executive Committee (EC). It's further believed that there is not a single office bearer representing states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu or Kerala. And, two of its front organizations, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO) look to be largely ceremonial only drawing strength from Saudi Arabia and the UAE to propagate Salafi cult in India. It's possible that they are funded by these countries in furtherance of their activities.

There are some activists in PFI who are strongly suspected to be involved in economic offences too. Significantly, PFI leadership has come to light being more active in the aftermath of CAA coming in force. It is known to have been trying to forge relationship with Turkey's Muslim Brotherhood through a Turkish NGO called IHH and RCFI.

In view of the volatile communal horizon, particularly felt after the recent riots in Delhi, vigil against PFI activities especially due to its perceived connections with foreign countries like Turkey which is starkly inimical to Indian security interests, merits all round attention.

With Indonesian sentiment showing signs of going against Indian communal interests , Indian and neighboring security agencies must keep a sharp eye on the extraneous forces trying to disturb the communal tranquil not only in India but also in the subcontinent.


The writer is a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. The views expressed here are personal


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