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The terror mindset

The terror mindset

Author: Balbir Punj
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: January 23, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/151790/The-terror-mindset.html

In the fight against terrorism, the UPA Government's Janus face has been thoroughly exposed. On one hand it is taking strict action to curb the menace, whereas on the other it is promoting the very mindset on which terror organisations - whether SIMI or Lashkar-e-Tayyeba or Al Qaeda - are founded. Systematically, a mindset of perpetual victimhood has been encouraged, which, ironically, is the same thing that radical Islamist organisations try to foster in order to justify a forcible return to orthodox Islam.

Of course, one must add here that this is not the view promoted by many moderate and modern Islamic scholars. Nonetheless, this extremist ideology prospers because of some people who are obsessed with the past glory of an Islamic supranationalism. The teaching of history that embraces the imagined 'humiliation' heaped on Islam by the West and promotes the idea that Muslim rule in the sub-continent was done in by the British "in connivance with the Hindus" - the last bit being taken from official history textbooks taught in Pakistani secondary schools - is what cultures the petri dish of hate.

Conclusive evidence gathered through investigations carried out by various international investigative agencies have revealed that the LeT and its various alias are the creation of the Pakistani Army as one of its tactics is to bleed India dry. Even "capturing India", according to LeT ideologue Hafiz Saeed, is only a comma on the Islamic outfit's path to other goals targeting the whole world. Saeed has never hidden his aim of "planting the flag of Islam in Washington, Tel Aviv and New Delhi" and says so openly through his various 'motivational' sermons.

We just cannot ignore these ideologues and their ideology of hate for they have, unfortunately, found resonance among some young Muslims in our country too. The persistence of SIMI despite a ban imposed on it for the last six years and the return of this 'student' organisation in the form of the Indian Mujahideen should be warning enough for us to try to wipe the ideology that breeds this justification of extremism.

There should be no such illusions that these extremists are poor uneducated Muslims. Almost every SIMI activist captured till date has been found to be well educated. This is further demonstrated by the deft handling of e-mails, satellite phones and sophisticated explosive devices by the jihadis. Some of those terrorists arrested have been even found to have held important technical posts in large corporations. The pattern is in congruence with those jihadis who carried out the 9/11 attack in the US. None of them came from poor backgrounds or deprived circumstances.

The Government proposal to legislate the recognition of madarsa certificates as being equivalent to secondary school leaving certificates issued by secondary school boards including the CBSE, is a measure that clearly shows the UPA Government's Janus face. Has it even considered the serious implications of such a move? May be the Government hopes to fund these religious schools to add some science and general education classes to their exclusively religious curricula. Even that would not really make them equivalent to the education - in content, quality, context or intent - that is provided by secondary public or private schools of the country.

The fundamental fact is that secondary education as we know now is imparted in schools with a mixed student population. Even schools run by Christians, Jains, Arya Samaj, etc, follow the curriculum as laid down by the respective State boards or the CBSE. Also, students from various communities study together in these schools. Even in schools run by Christian, Hindu or Sikh bodies, religious instruction is imparted only to the students of that specific community while other students are made to attend moral education classes where tolerance and plurality are emphasised. The very fact that the children spend hours in these schools mixing with other students from different faiths goes a long way in fostering the idea of India and secularism among these students. Finally, these schools are monitored by Government appointed authorities.

However, this is not the case when in comes to madarsas. Therefore, if the Government implements this dangerous idea of equivalence with secondary education in secular schools, it would tantamount to the state endorsing a community specific framework of learning where Muslim students interact for 10 or 12 years only with other Muslim students and do not have even the least acquaintance with either the greatness of other faiths or the people practicing them.

Yet, these very students, soaked in Islamic ideas and sanitised from others, would have an opportunity to be recruited in Government sector organisations. A country whose Constitution declares it as secular would soon be swamped in its administrative heart by a set of people who have imbibed the idea of Islamic exclusivity and have had no contact as students with other Indians from different faiths that exist in this great country. Certainly, SIMI and LeT would be sending e-mails of thanks to HRD Minister Arjun Singh and UPA Government for doing them this favour.

The Government may claim that these madarsas would be brought under the purview of the state, and that there will be educational boards overseeing their curricula. However, this claim ignores the harsh reality that even under the regime of former President Gen Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan the attempt to register madarsas and bring them under the purview of the state never materialised.

Fundamentally, why should there be schools exclusively catering to one community, which ipso facto are barred to students of all other communities? Also, in a state where say 15 per cent of the population is Muslim, we will see 85 per cent of students answering the same civil service question paper but 15 per cent answering a completely different set of questions that will be based on exclusive, anti-diluvian, religion-based curricula. Does the UPA Government truly understand what this would do to the idea of India as a secular, democratic country? Should we have a Saudi Arabia growing within our secular society?

Where are India's liberals to oppose this dangerous move? Don't they know what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia teaches in its schools? That many of these madarsas are funded by Saudi money is itself a warning that the Government will ignore at its own peril. One cannot change the madarsa mind-set by equipping them with computers. This entire exercise will only result in making modern tools available for spreading a medieval ideology.

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