Scholars, Islamic clerics to be part of counter-terror plan: Rajnath Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh during an interview with the Indian Express at his residence in New Delhi on saturday. Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal New Delhi 260518 (Interview Photograph)

The National Investigation Agency has arrested many youths over the last few months across the country for alleged affiliation to the Islamic State.

To counter radicalisation among youth, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has sought to rope in experts with the help of National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to build a counter-narrative. Singh, along with Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, took up the issues of de-radicalisation and counter-radicalisation at a review meeting on Monday.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested many youths over the last few months across the country for alleged affiliation to the Islamic State.

Besides scholars and researchers, Singh said that clerics who can counsel young people about Islam should be engaged in this counter-radicalisation move. The civil society should ascertain the reasons behind the youth taking up radical beliefs and then use the influence of community interventions, he is learned to have said in the meeting.

Singh also sought to modernise police forces to provide an elaborate insight into religious radicalisation and all forms of extremism, counter-insurgency, and cyber and economic crimes.

During the review, Singh also discussed proposed amendments to the National Investigation Act, 2008. The amendments, which give broader powers to the NIA, is pending before the Cabinet and was to be introduced in the recent Monsoon Session of Parliament but was delayed due to objections raised by some states for giving powers to the director-general of NIA for seizure and attachment of property representing proceeds of terrorism, said officials who were part of the meeting.

At present, the NIA requires the approval of the D-G of the state police concerned.

The draft provisions of the Bill include mandating the NIA to launch parallel probes into terror attacks on Indians and their properties abroad. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has similar powers that were exercised to conduct a parallel probe after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed six American nationals.

The Bill also proposes to designate any individual suspected of having terror links in the list of terrorist entities.

The decision was taken after a surge in the number of youths joining the Islamic State, following which the Home Ministry held consultations with central agencies and state governments. The amendment, according to officials, will lead to a ban on individuals who may not be associated with any terrorist organisation but are indulging in terror acts independently.

At present, there are 39 groups in the list of banned terrorist organisations under Section 35 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, (UAPA), the latest being NSCN (Khaplang), which carried out an attack on Indian Army personnel last year.

The proposed amendments also give empowers NIA inspectors to investigate offences under UAPA. Earlier, an officer of the level of deputy SP or above was empowered to probe UAPA cases.

Source: Indian Express

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