IS threat: Maharashtra rolls out deradicalisation plan

Union Home Ministry had asked three States to draw up a comprehensive counter-strategy in the wake of attempts by international terrorist outfits.

February 04, 2016 12:06 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:04 pm IST - Mumbai:

Faced with the challenges of both home-grown extremism and the global Islamic State (IS) threat, Maharashtra has rolled out a deradicalisation programme for the minority community.

The programme includes opening vyayam shalas in minority areas, making National Cadet Corps (NCC), Bharat Scouts and Guides (BS&G) compulsory in minority schools, and setting up an independent media outlet to deliver ‘mainstream thoughts and values’ to the minority youth in the State.

The Union Home Ministry had asked three States to draw up a comprehensive counter-strategy in the wake of attempts by international terrorist outfits to propagate jihadi ideologies.

Presentation in Delhi

A three-member team of the State’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) led by Director General of Police (DGP) Pravin Dixit had presented an IS counter-strategy at New Delhi in the second week of January.

Concurrently, the State Home Department has rolled out a 50-point socio-economic strategy with the aim of ‘bringing youth of the minority community into the mainstream’ and making coordinated efforts and policies in 13 sectors, including education, sports, urban planning, law and order, skill development, women and child, social justice, and health.

Government resolution

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has approved the proposal and passed a government resolution on it. The proposed responses drawn up against the threat of home-grown extremism include: plans to teach religious texts from all sects in minority schools and teaching merits of democratic States and demerits of dictatorships as a separate chapter in the Urdu textbooks.

The State police, which has faced flak in the past for poor handling of communal rights, has been directed to deal with religious extremism ‘in the strictest possible manner.’ Individuals and organisations disturbing communal harmony, spreading propaganda on social websites and services, ‘must be dealt with strongly.’ The cops have been told to identify and reduce any feeling of communalism within the force and ‘reach out to the minority community and win their hearts at all costs.’

“The plan aims to create an environment of solidarity and trust among the minority, and envisages different departments undertaking various schemes to reach out to the minority, implement a scheme a year, while setting aside 15% of their funds for the same,” Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil told The Hindu.

As per the government resolution on ‘deradicalisation of youth and preserving communal amity’, the State Education Department will launch a mid-day meal scheme in Urdu schools, provide textbooks at subsidised rates, and teach Urdu as optional subject in 300 Marathi shalas (schools). Muslim scholars have already criticised the efforts to label the community as radicalised.

“This is an idea borrowed from the West. The use of word deradicalisation itself is like telling them [minority] they are already radicalised, and starts the whole thing on a negative note. If the government wishes, it could propose a development programme for the minority on the lines of schemes it has for SCs/STs. It all depends on the government’s intention. If done with the right intention there is no problem in even introducing Vyayam Shalas and NCC training,” said Professor Abdul Shaban of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences .

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