7 things you need to know about the threat of Islamic State in India

Nearly eighty percent of arrested ISIS sympathisers in India came from educated backgrounds, a statistic that has set alarm bells ringing among India's security establishment.

India’s investigators are increasingly concerned over the growing influence of Islamic State (IS) in the country, with at least 50 people arrested by authorities over 2016, according to a news report.

According to IANS news agency, 10 arrested in relation with involvement with ISIS belonged to Hyderabad, 11 from Kerala and five each from Karnataka and West Bengal.

Twelve of those arrested hailed from the western state of Maharashtra, a report in Mumbai Mirror quoted officials at India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA).

It is being reported that almost 80 per cent of those accused of being involved with Islamic State in India received formal education, a figure that shatters age-old perception about educated persons being relatively less prone to radicalisation. Only 20 percent of those charged with conspiring with ISIS were found to have received education in a madrasa.

According to an estimate, at least 7,000 Indian Muslims have been radicalised by ISIS over the last two years.

Here are 10 things that may give you an idea about the scale of Islamic State’s presence in the country.

  • Indian security agencies are anxious that Islamic State will add another dimension to existing security threats from Pakistan-sponsored terrorist organisations in the country. In the past, global terrorist organisations such as Al-Qaeda haven’t been much involved in India, which has seen multiple attacks from terror outfits such as Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT), Indian Mujahideen (IM) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) among others.

(Source: Youtube/Indian Express)

  • IANS also recently reported that 50 percent of Islamic State sympathizers in India followed “Ahle Hadith”- a radical brand of Islam, 30 percent were followers of Tablighi Jamat and just 20 percent were followers of Deobandi school that started in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in 1867.
  • The southern state of Kerala is being widely seen as hotbed of radicalism. One of the most literate states in India, ISIS is believed to be finding a growing appeal among young Muslim males, with the community making up just over a quarter of the state’s population in 2011. Concerns were expressed by radicalism experts in the country in the wake of fleeing of 21 people to join Islamic State ranks in June last year. An analysis published in a news website last year reckoned that far-off location of the state, away from New Delhi, and a “supportive” political climate provided a fertile breeding ground for radicalisation.
  • A suspected ISIS militant from India, Areeb Majeed, who was arrested by Indian authorities in 2014 had claimed that Indians in Islamic State ranks were considered “physically weak” and were given menial jobs. The 23-year old also reportedly told Indian investigators that he was asked to clean toilets during his time with Islamic State before fleeing back to India.
  • It has been reported that 50 percent of arrested IS sympathizers in India followed Ahle Hadith, an ultra-conservative sect of Islam, 30 percent were supporters of another radical sect called Tablighi Jamat, and just 20 percent were followers of Uttar Pradesh-based Deoband school, which commands a massive following on the subcontinent and even in parts of the United Kingdom.
  • According to reports, ISIS is using several platforms to radicalise youth in India and Indian security agencies are keeping a close watch on the terror group’s activities. It is highly likely that radicalisation by ISIS is being carried out online, like in the West. However, it is still unclear from media reports as to what’s the prime source of radicalisation for the group.
  • India’s current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government has however expressed solidarity with the Muslim community in the wake of growing number of reports of radicalisation. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has on several occasions been quoted as saying that India didn’t face any threat from ISIS since “people who follow Islam in India, love the country”.