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Chief of Defence Staff Response to Deradicalisation and Suggested Model

Published Jan 18, 2020
Updated Mar 02, 2020

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat has suggested that there is a section of the youth in the Valley who have been completely radicalised and thus may have to be put through an intense course of deradicalization in camps has raised an uproar.

“These people can still be isolated from radicalisation in a gradual way. But there are people who have been completely radicalised. These people need to be taken out separately, possibly taken to some de-radicalisation camps,” he said. “We have got de-radicalisation camps going on in our country,” the Chief of Defence Staff said. He said that Pakistan too has de-radicalisation camps. “Let me tell you even Pakistan is doing the same. Pakistan also has de-radicalisation camps as they have understood that the terrorism that they have been sponsoring is actually hitting back at them,” Gen Rawat said.

The suggestion for holding deradicalization capsules or courses is not new nor novel but holding camps in isolation has led to a comparison with those held in Xinjiang China where reports of hundreds of Uighur being put through reorientation has been officially accepted by Chinese authorities and a number of white papers have been published on the subject by the government in Beijing.

“You got to start looking at where the radicalisation is taking place. Who are the people involved in radicalising the people. It is happening in schools, universities, from religious places and sites, and then there are group of people who are spreading this,” he said.

“You have to start isolating these people gradually and then start a counter radicalisation programme by identifying people who have been radicalised and to what degree. “You have to segregate them … Then look at those who have been completely radicalised. First target them and then also start looking at the future, like what we have seen in Kashmir,” he said.

Here is a look at the a Seven Level Counter Radicalisation Response from the Archives in 2014

Use of the web – internet chat rooms, weblogs, social media as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to spread extremist propaganda and attract youth to join terrorist groups as the al Qaeda and more recently the Islamic State has been prevalent for some time now. The al Qaeda has used tools as web magazine, “Inspire,” to attract youth through the internet and has succeeded in recruiting many; the Islamic State has taken this form to the next level. The return and interrogation of Areeb Majeed, one of the four youth from Kalyan near Mumbai from Iraq after having fought with the Islamic State for some months brought the challenge of radicalization closer home. Majeed revealed that he was indoctrinated through the web and given directions through social media messages on how to join the Islamic State.

The arrest of 24-year-old Mehdi Masroor Biswas, handler of the Twitter account @ShamiWitness in Bangalore in December 2014 for carrying out propaganda for the Islamic State underlined necessity for undertaking comprehensive measures to monitor activities of youth who may have swayed from the path of rationality. Biswas an employee of the India Tobacco Company (ITC) and others may have lacked perspective of the consequences of their acts.

In this light, India’s Intelligence Bureau Director, Asif Ibrahim briefing a galaxy of top police officials in front of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister on 30 November prioritized counter radicalization.

A counter or de-radicalisation response will have to operate at seven levels to dissuade youth from joining terrorist groups; individual, family, community, education, employer and media, government and security forces and international community. At the individual level youth will have to be constantly guided to stay on the path of non violence by providing alternate channels for airing grievances as well as managing concerns be it of education or employment. The role of the family is important as was shown in the case of Areeb, where influence was used to cajole him to return to the country once contact was established when he was injured. While youth today are unwilling to submit to parental influence, monitoring of their activity, particularly the company they keep and web history has assumed importance howsoever unpleasant the task may be. Mothers, sisters and wives have a major role to play to keep male members in the family away from the path of extremism and violence.

At the next level involving community leaders, in the case of Muslims, the Ulema, heads of seminaries and clerics is important. In India there are a number of Muslim clergy who have condemned violence by terrorist groups unequivocally, repeating the message is necessary where media will have an important role.

Education both syllabi and institutions are an important intervention for counter radicalization. The syllabus duly vetted by acknowledged educationists and social scientists must ensure information and knowledge is presented in a way to inculcate the right values of tolerance, equity, secularism and pluralism. Educational institutions have a major role to play and should not only follow laid down syllabus and guidelines but have to wily nily monitor activities within to prevent radicalization of the student community. Discreet monitoring has become essential how so ever abhorrent it may be in an open society as ours.

Employers have an increasing role to play in ensuring that their employees are acting responsibly and are not violating social as well as legal norms. This aspect is frequently ignored or lightly brushed aside by corporate who claim that they do not have the right to monitor their employee’s private and social life. Yet this is an essential aspect of social responsibility that every business has to bear and may bring a bad name to the company in case an employee is apprehended.

The media should also highlight atrocities committed by terrorists and publish interviews of those who have returned as Areeb and who are amenable to shed their links with the extremist groups. The electronic media – television and radio will have an important role to play in the same. At the next level, government will have to provide direction in the form of a national strategy, policy or guidelines for countering radicalization. Pluralism or secularism depending on the political ideology should be encouraged and leaders should avoid falling prey to indiscretions particularly during election campaigning.

Security forces should avoid targeting youth of a particular community or locality merely on the basis of information or hearsay. A wrong arrest can lead to adverse reaction in the community at large and should be avoided. Intelligence will remain a key tool to focus on actual offender while avoiding targeting innocents. An extensive monitoring of the web including social media has also become important. This will require necessary regulatory approvals from the government and should not be undertaken in an unrestrained manner. International affirmation towards building a pluralist and humane society has to be led by the highest religious and national leadership denoting the moral compass to shun extremism and violence. Cooperation amongst intelligence agencies will be a contributory factor but use of inputs has to be based on national philosophy of countering terrorism. There is a gigantic task ahead in which the society and the government will have to co-join to prevent innocents being drawn in the web of terror. This is a collective responsibility.