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Radicalising them young: The Madrasa-terror nexus is spiralling out of control

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New Delhi, Jan 23: The Shia Waqf Board chairman, Waseem Rizvi dashed off a letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to shut down primary level madrasas in order to check the influence of the Islamic State on Muslim children.

Let them complete their high school and then take admissions into madrasas, he said. It can be seen that children are soft targets for running any mission and at this point of time ISIS is a dangerous terror organisation which is gradually getting hold over the Muslim population across the world.

"...if madarasas are not shut down, about half of the country's population will become supporters of the ISIS ideology in 15 years' time," Rizvi said in the letter.

Radicalising them young: The Madrasa-terror nexus is spiralling out of control

The concerns about madrasas breeding hate has been raised several times by the various security agencies in India. This problem is rampant in Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala.

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Last year there were protests that broke out in Bhadrachalam, Telangana after allegations were made against a madrasa for indulging in mass conversions. During the probe the name of one Mohammad Taufeeq cropped up as he had studied in this madrasa. Taufeeq was killed in an encounter at Jammu and Kashmir and was part of the Hizbul Mujahideen.

The concerns by Rizvi also comes in the wake of the rise of Wahhabism in states like Kerala. This school of thought is being made popular in the madrasas in these states. In Kerala many parents had complained that their children have been ordering them to stop watching television. There were also complaints that their children had become aggressive and would pick up fights with their sisters about their dressing sense.

Radicalising them young:

In 2016, at a school in Mallapuram, some of the students had approached their headmaster and sought for a change of their biology teacher. They clearly told the headmaster, that they would not take lessons from a woman.

In another incident, a 14 year old boy in Kerala returned home and told his parents that he would no go to school as he did not want to mix with students of other faiths. Intelligence Bureau officials, who have been tracking the growth of Salafi faith in Kerala, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and other states tell OneIndia that outfits which subscribe to the ISIS ideology have been targeting children at a very young age. These children are more vulnerable and tend to pick up the ideology, without even questioning it.

Officials say that there is a deadly cocktail of the Wahhabi school of thought and online Islam, which is being used to drive across the agenda among children. The moderate Muslims have shunned this, but the problem lies with the youth, who are being told to follow Online Islam, which only preaches a radical school of thought.

From Saudi to Pakistan:

India is facing a problem of plenty when it comes to radicalisation. The Saudi-ISIS influence is big and has worked for them in select states. The problem does not stem from Saudi Arabia alone.

In 2014, India had flagged concerns about the activities of the madrasas along the Indo-Nepal border.

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It was pointed out that these Pakistan funded madrasas were carrying out an anti-India propaganda and were providing safe haven to terrorists who were trying to sneak into India. India also did not rule out the possibility of inter-lineages between these madrasas and a number of Mandarin learning centres along the India-Nepal Terai belt.

Last year, the National Investigation Agency busted a module of the Falah-i-Insaniyat, which was pumping in money into India. It was found that the money was being sent in the name of Muslim welfare, but in reality it was a defence fund to be used to carry out terror activities. Several religious leaders came under the scanner and it was found that the money was being used to fund madrasas as well, in a bid to radicalise youth and children.

The NIA also last month busted a module, which was ISIS inspired in Delhi and UP. Several persons arrested were religious teachers of various madrasas. The NIA said that they were plotting a major attack ahead of Republic Day. However the scanner on the madrasas came right back as many of those arrested were part of it.

In July 2018, the NIA arrested one Abdus Sami, a madrasa owner from Seelampur in Uttar Pradesh.

Adbus Sami had been delivering provocative and inflammatory speeches in the support of 'Caliphate', NIA officials said. He had launched a few websites wherein his speeches have been uploaded. Abdus Sami has been allegedly instigating and motivating youth for anti-national activities and has visited various parts of the country in order to deliver his 'Takreer and Bayaan' (speech and statement), the NIA officials said.

He ran a trust and madrassas and some of his financial transactions in this connection had allegedly been found to be of suspicious nature.

Establishing a network through madrasas:

NIA officials say that in recent times, they have come across several such cases, where the funding had been enhanced for madrasas. The source of the funding has been the bigger concern. Either it is coming from Wahhabi groups in Saudi Arabia or through the FIF in Pakistan.

NIA officials say that Lashkar-e-Tayiba chief, Hafiz Saeed, through his financial wing, FIF was trying to establish a network in the Delhi-NCR region and in a bid to achieve this he was funding several madrasas as well. It was found that the funds were reaching madrasas in the Mewat, Haryana, where hate would be taught to the students. A set of teachers had been arranged, who through their sermons would misguide the students.

Investigators learnt that the funds were sent in not only to fund the madrasas, but also to transport it to other states to carry out terror related activities. The intention is to radicalise as many youth and children as possible and get them prepared for anti-India activities over the years.

Rizvi had pointed out in his letter to the PM that the support to the ISIS is clearly visible in Kashmir where children are being alienated from people of other religion in the name of Islamic education.

"In rural areas of the country too, primary madarasas in the name of donations are harming the future of our children and promoting fundamentalist thinking... this is damaging both the country and Muslim children," he said.

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