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Why India should not ignore IS threat

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By Nithin Sridhar

Almost every day India wakes up to hawkish incidents like ancient shrines bombed, women abducted, and men beheaded in the Middle East. Thanks to Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the violence against men, women and children has gained momentum.

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Baalshamin Temple

For example, ISIS recently destroyed the ancient Baalshamin Temple in Palmyra, Syria. Before that, it beheaded Khaled al-Asaad who was a renowned antiquities’ scholar in Palmyra. On September 2, it claimed responsibility for bombing a mosque in Sanaa, Yemen that is controlled by Houthis who adhere to Shia Islam. The bombing had killed at least 28 people.

News pieces like these surface in Middle East almost every other day wherein the Islamic State has killed, maimed, abducted, or raped someone or bombed something. There is a gross violation of human rights happening day in and day out; yet, we see that many people are enthusiastic about joining the Islamic State and they fly from all over the world to Iraq to join the IS.

Consider this: Just yesterday it was reported that a Dutch sergeant who was with Netherlands Royal Air Force left for Syria and now the Defense ministry suspects that he might have joined IS. In June, German authorities had discovered that IS was recruiting women from Germany.

These are not isolated incidents, nor are they localized to some countries. The Islamic State poses a genuine threat to the whole world. Let us look at the Islamic State and its threat from an Indian perspective.

ISIS (1)

Geographically, the influence of Islamic State is limited to few countries in the Middle East. But, Islamic State is not a terrorist organization. It is unlike all other Islamic terror organizations. The Islamic State is basically a State, a Caliphate as the name says it all.

Being a Caliphate, it is expansionist and imperialist by its very nature. By establishing a Caliphate, the IS had called for all the Muslims around the world to unite under its leadership. And as a result, many Muslims from around the world including India have either joined the IS or have at least made attempts to join them.

Threat 1: Indian youths may join IS

Consider this! Just today, it was reported that UAE had detained 13 Indians in early August on charges of planning to join the Islamic State and it has deported two among them back to India. In June, Intelligence Bureau had stated that 11 Indians had joined IS.

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Zuber Khan

In August, a Mumbai journalist Zuber Ahmed Khan was arrested for planning to fly to Iraq to join IS; therefore, the very first threat from IS that India must counter is its ability to polarize some Muslims, especially youth and induce them to fly to Iraq. This is a real threat! As the number of people who join IS increases, it may trigger a chain reaction as a result of which many more people may come forward to join IS.

Secondly, when someone who had joined ISIS returns to India, it is very difficult to assess whether he is now working for ISIS or has he returned after a change of heart. In fact, IS may use this as a strategy to create its network in India. Hence, India must bust these recruiting attempts by Islamic State and safeguard Indian youth.

Threat 2: IS may give new lease of life to militancy in Kashmir

Kashmir which is already affected by militancy and separatism that fuels anti-India sentiments day in and day out may further be exploited by IS. In June, some youths reportedly hoisted IS flag and Pakistani flag in Kashmir.

This incident shows not only the fact that IS has made a home among the militants but also that IS has become a symbolic representation of ideal Islamic state that terrorists aim to establish. The use of IS flag by some Kashmiri youths sends out a clear signal that some separatists stand by whatever IS stands for and they approve all the actions that IS has committed.

Hence, there is a great threat that IS may give a new lease of life to militancy in Kashmir. Further, IS may, in fact, use militancy in Kashmir to expand its hold. This may be attested from the fact that IS is already trying to gain a strong foothold in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).

Threat 3: IS may ally with other terror organizations to infiltrate India and destabilize it

Apart from using its sympathizers in India to recruit new people to its fight, there is a great possibility that IS may also align with terrorist organizations based in Pakistan and Bangladesh that have been causing havoc in India for decades.

AN76722699Empire of FearA recent book by BBC reporter Andrew Hosken reveals how IS has plans to take over large chunks of the world including Indian subcontinent under its control. Even if IS may not be able to wage a direct war against India, IS may easily utilize the ground network of various terror organizations that operate from Pakistan and Bangladesh to destabilize India.

These are the threats that Islamic State poses to India even now, in the present, when it is geographically limited to the Middle East. But, if it ever manages to geographically expand the way the Caliphates of the old did, then the threats will increase manifold.

It may become a question of survival or death for Indians. The danger that India may face in such a scenario wherein the IS comes knocking its doors can be summed up thus: “If ever the ISIS comes knocking at the doors of India, it is clear that its intentions are to make India a part of its Islamic Caliphate, implement Sharia rule over Indian population and convert or kill all those people who do not adhere to its Jihadi-Salafism brand of Islam.

ISIS poses a danger not only to the non-Muslim Indian majority but also to non-Sunni Muslims present in India. In fact, all those Muslims including Sunni Muslims who do not accept its Caliphate and who do not adhere to its extremist interpretation of Islam would be branded as non-Muslims and taken to task accordingly.”

Therefore, it is very vital that India strategically prepare a response team to tackle the threats posed by the Islamic State. If these threats are not properly countered, India may have to suffer huge losses in the coming future.

IS has been a symbol, an inspiration for all those extremists who adhere to the Jihadi-Salafi interpretation of Islam that believes in Islamizing the whole world and destroying all non-believers. These extremists must be stopped and India must make all efforts to stop them.

  • P G Kutty Nair

    ISIS is not an evil that one day fell onto the earth from the clouds. There is a tree behind a poisonous fruit, a plant before the tree and a seed before the plant. So it is clear that a seed has been planted and nurtured into a tree before it fructified. The world can be excused for not noticing the seed, but not so for not noticing the tree. Now that it has started bearing fruits like the ISIS, the world must trace the evil to its roots and maybe the seed itself. Let me be more explicit. Remember a secular slogan that is still afloat? “Terrorism has no religion”. That is an open refusal to see reality. Unless that mental condition changes, nothing will change.

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  • P G Kutty Nair

    ISIS is not an evil that one day fell onto the earth from the clouds. There is a tree behind a poisonous fruit, a plant before the tree and a seed before the plant. So it is clear that a seed has been planted and nurtured into a tree before it fructified. The world can be excused for not noticing the seed, but not so for not noticing the tree. Now that it has started bearing fruits like the ISIS, the world must trace the evil to its roots and maybe the seed itself. Let me be more explicit. Remember a secular slogan that is still afloat? “Terrorism has no religion”. That is an open refusal to see reality. Unless that mental condition changes, nothing will change.

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Physicians Happy While Traders in Shock on Ban on E-Cigarettes in India

With the Union Cabinet directing a blanket ban on e-cigarettes in the country, physicians welcomed the step while e-cigarette traders expressed shock and anger

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e-cigarettes, health, union, ban, india
A man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette, Aug. 28, 2019. VOA

With the Union Cabinet directing a blanket ban on e-cigarettes in the country with complete suspension of their manufacturing, import, export, distribution and storage, physicians welcomed the step while e-cigarette traders expressed shock and anger over the decision.

“Although, e-cigarettes are little less lethal then the conventional cigarettes, we cannot shun away the fact that it contains harmful ingredients. These chemicals can potentially affect the lungs and overall health of the individual in the long run,” Rajesh Chawla, Senior Pulmonologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, told IANS.

Industry body TRENDS which represents importers, distributors and marketers of ENDS, or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems in India, termed the decision to ban e-cigarettes “ironic and erratic”.

“This ban on e-cigarettes on the basis of ‘selective sourcing of scientific and medical opinion’ and without holding a single stakeholder meeting is nothing short of a complete murder of democratic norms,” said Praveen Rikhy, Convenor, TRENDS (Trade Representatives of ENDS).

“All our representations sharing best practices from other countries – 70 developed countries have allowed regulated sale of e-cigarettes, have been completely ignored. We will now initiate a formal campaign to help MPs understand the issue, clarify misapprehensions and misinformation spread by lobby groups and support the farmer groups who see the growth of the e-cigarette sector as a global market opportunity for nicotine,” Rikhy said.

e-cigarettes, health, union, ban, india
The Donald Trump administration on September 12 said that it plans to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavoured e-cigarettes in the US following six deaths. Pixabay

While e-cigarettes have been marketed as a way for adults to quit conventional smoking, a recent outbreak of lung illness associated with use of vaping products in the US has raised concerns about the safety of these products.

The Donald Trump administration on September 12 said that it plans to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavoured e-cigarettes in the US following six deaths linked to vaping.

Health authorities have documented a total of 450 cases involving e-cigarettes, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued a health warning against vaping.

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“I entirely support the idea of a ban on e-cigarettes; it is a step in the right direction,” Manoj Luthra, CEO, Jaypee Hospital in Noida, told IANS.

“E-cigarettes have been projected as a means to help people to quit smoking tobacco and also being non-polluting. However, these have their own health hazards and are addictive as well. These contain nicotine and other chemical vapours which will certainly have ill effects on the heart and lung and other organs as well,” he said. (IANS)