It was a different kind of year when it came to internal security in 2015. There were terror strikes, but these were not text book. Terrorists operating in the North Eastern states and Pakistan troubled India the most this year. With the Indian Mujahideen decimated to a large extent, terror stayed out of the major cities.
All through the year the favourite subject of every internal security reporter was the ISIS. Have they arrived in India or have they not was the question that was always asked.
The fact is that they have arrived in India, but not at all in a big way. There are 23 recruits from the billion Indian population and one must commend the manner in which the Intelligence Bureau in particular has worked overtime to keep this threat under check.
Fighting the ideology and not the soldier:
For the Indian security establishment, the entire year was focused around fighting the ideology. When the security officials and the home ministry put on its thinking cap, it realised that fighting the ISIS would not be won by arresting people on flimsy grounds. The ideology of the ISIS was the cancer and this is what had to be fought instead.
Roping in the religious leaders, keeping Wahabi scholars away from India, speaking with family members and elders apart from enhanced online surveillance formed part of the strategy to fight the ISIS.
Ensuring that there was an inclusive approach to counter the problem is what did the trick and the Muslims in a majority shunned the ISIS.
This was followed by another initiative by the government to meet with religious leaders of both the Sunni and Shia sects. Their help in educating the youth about the evil designs was sought and they did deliver.
Fatwas against the ISIS and not to forget the Friday sermons in the Mosques of India against the outfit have become a regular feature. The bottom line was ISIS is pro violence and anti Islam or ISIS propagates violence and not Islam.
Some did get away:
There are black sheep everywhere. It was no different in the case of the ISIS as well. The home ministry put out a list of 23 Indians who joined the ISIS. It is a negligible number, but still a cause for concern.
Bringing them back was a part of the strategy and India did manage it in the case of Areeb Majeed who was one of the four youth from Maharashtra to have joined the outfit.
ISIS is yet to reveal its India plans in detail.
Apart from this India also manage to net some others such as Mehdi Masroor Biswas alias Shammiwitness, Afsha Jabeen and Salman Moiudeen for allegedly propagating on behalf of the ISIS.
There were others too who were caught in the nick of time just as they were about to leave India. The approach in these cases was different. India decided not to file cases against them.
The Home Ministry directive was clear and that was punishments are not always deterrents. As a first step, these persons were counselled by both the police and the family elders.
Now they are being watched closely and officials say with confidence that none would make an attempt to join the ISIS again.
So far so good:
Where the fight against the ISIS is concerned one could say the Indian agencies have achieved a large degree of success. However, one needs to bear in mind that this is not the end of the war.
This is a start as the fact of the matter is that the ISIS is yet to reveal its India plans in detail.
The problem is that the ISIS is nurturing a strong sub continental dream where it aims at setting up shop in Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
India would watch these developments closely and once such a decision is made by the ISIS, the number of recruits from India could well shoot up. The real challenge would begin then.