Home Minister Rajnath Singh today described religious radicalisation as a serious security threat and said if not checked in time, it could lead to terrorism. Singh, who reviewed the security situation in the Northeast with chief secretaries and DGPs of the states of the region here, also expressed concern over proliferation of illegal arms asked the top officers to launch a sustained campaign against arms smugglers. “If we talk about future security threats, radicalisation has come as a huge security challenge. Radicalisation is a transnational phenomenon. If we can’t check it, it will turn into terrorism,” he said at the meeting which was also attended by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and other top security officials.
The home minister said because the Northeast was especially vulnerable to attempts of radicalisation, it was essential to identify those behind it. Later, briefing about the meeting, adviser in the home ministry Ashok Prasad said there have been attempts by Bangladesh-based terror outfits like Jamiat-ul-Muajhideen to radicalise youths in the bordering districts in India. “There are spillover effects of radicalisation in Bangladesh (in India),” he said. Asked about the possibility of Middle East terror group ISIS having links with youth in India’s Northeast, Prasad said so far no such information has come to the notice of government agencies. “There is no information of ISIS having direct links in the Northeast. But once upon a time the al Qaida had said that Assam was on their agenda,” he said.
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The home minister said some of those trying to radicalise youth had masked themselves as religious preachers, while some others has set up NGOs and still others had mingled with them by carrying out development programmes for individuals, socio-cultural uplift and education. Singh said it was necessary to monitor their activities and take preemptive action.
“Some of these agents even get foreign funding. So it is necessary to closely monitor their foreign funding and utilisation,” he said.
The home minister said though most of the Northeast was free from militancy, proliferation of illegal arms was a problem that needed to be tackled. “The proliferation of illegal arms in such large numbers leads to more crimes. I urge the DGPs to launch an organised campaign against illegal arm traders,” he said. Singh said illegal firearms, narcotics and fake Indian currency notes were being smuggled into the country from across the international border abutting the Northeast. “These borders are practically unpoliced. There is need to set up more police stations in the border areas as these will check cross-border crimes and bring a sense of security to the people who live in these remote areas,” he said.
The home minister, however, noted there has been significant improvement in the security situation in the Northeast in the last few years. “Most of the areas are now free from insurgency and militants have been losing support even in the few pockets where they had influence,” he said. Singh said this had been made possible because of effective counter-insurgency operations, and responsive, development oriented governance, besides improved relations with neighbouring countries. “(But) In some areas, armed gangs are indulging in extortion, kidnapping and abduction in the name of militancy,” he said.