The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Telangana government differ on the strategies to be adopted to tackle the growing number of Muslim youth from Hyderabad and surrounding areas being radicalised by the ISIS recruits. While the MHA recommends stern criminal action against such youth, the Telangana police wants to counsel them and keep a tab on their movements.
The differences came to the fore following the arrest of three youths from Hyderabad, Abdul Basith (21), Syed Omar Farooq and Maaz Hasan Farooq (both 22). They were remanded to two weeks’ judicial custody by a city court on Tuesday. The three were charged with Indian Penal Code Sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 121(trying to wage a war against the nation) and provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team based in Hyderabad is expected to move a custody petition to interrogate them along with the Hyderabad police next week, sources said.
Ever since reports of some Muslim youth being radicalised by ISIS moles came in June 2014, the Telangana police has been adopting a soft approach towards them. Such youth were kept in police custody for a few days and produced before the court and later let off for counselling in the presence of their parents.
Till now, 21 such youth were counselled by the special investigative team (SIT) of the Hyderabad police and most of them were allowed to live with their parents and families. The MHA was unhappy with this soft approach as it thinks that these youth did not abandon their ideology. Bastih and Maaz along with two others — Mohammad Nauman and Abrar Ahmed — were previously counselled after being arrested at Kolkata on 29 August while trying to enter Bangladesh to join ISIS.
Nauman and Abrar have dropped out of the circle, but Basith roped in Maaz and another cousin, Omar, to make another attempt to join ISIS — this time by cossing the India-Pakistan border. Incidentally, Basith, Maaz and Omar are close relatives of Syed Salauddin, former president of SIMI who died in a road mishap in October 2014.
So far, the Telangana police have gathered information about 60 youth who got in touch with ISIS moles from abroad, mostly through social networking sites. A special cell has been opened in the cybercrimes wing of the city police where different websites and the suspected persons’ online accounts are watched. At one stage, the MHA had showed interest in these tabs.
However, when the Hyderabad police wanted to conduct a re-counselling of Basith and the other two who were caught in Nagpur, the MHA stepped in and insisted that they be prosecuted this time. “The MHA was okay with counselling for the first timers lured by the ISIS,” Telangana DGP Anurag Sharma told The Sunday Guardian.
The Telangana police has followed the Centre’s directive in the case of Basith, Maaz and Omar, but still a section of SIT officials are of the view that counselling is the best way to keep the youth away from the ISIS moles. “Most of the youth are very young and do not understand the consequences of joining ISIS,” a SIT official told this newspaper.
Interestingly, during the course of the three-day interrogation after their arrest in Nagpur, the three youths told the cops that they were unhappy with their lives in Hyderabad.
Meanwhile, the Hyderabad police has also decided not to summon Hyderabad Kashmiri militant leader Asiya Andrabi, president of Dhuktaran-e-Millat, whom the arrested three wanted to meet and take her help to cross over to Pakistan.
“We have received a letter from Asiya stating that she had never met Basith and the other two and had no information about them,” the SIT official explained.