The Indian Express today published an article titled ‘Kerala floods: Village battling Islamic State tag is part of relief team’. The article talks about how youth from Padanna in Kerala have been working on the ground in flood-hit areas, ferrying supplies. The reason this village is talked about is that the village has earned the monicker ‘ISIS recruitment hub’ after the intelligence officials have busted ISIS network in Kerala multiple times in recent years.
Muslims make up 27 per cent of Kerala’s population. Padanna first came to light in May 2016 after over 25 people from Kerala fled to Afghanistan to join the ISIS. Most of those who have joined the ranks in the ISIS are reportedly educated professionals hailing from middle class or upper-middle-class families, thereby the argument that lack of education and poverty is driving the youth to extremism falls flat.
The Indian Express article describes in great detail how nearly 100 youngsters from Padanna, which is a Muslim-majority village, are playing a major role in helping Kerala recover from the floods. The report says that the youth have trimmed their beard and are avoiding ‘obvious symbols’ to avoid ‘unwanted attention’. The author names many Muslims from Padanna who are helping Kerala out in this hour of need. While the relief and rescue efforts are indeed commendable, it still can’t obfuscate the fact that many Muslim youths from that village are joining ISIS.
The good deeds of these many men do not take away the fact that there is a law and order situation in Kerala that needs to be addressed. We have earlier written about the silence around the fact that ISIS is taking roots in India, especially Kerala.
In 2014, the security agencies arrested 6 people for pro-ISIS sentiments and engaging in behaviour supportive of the Jihadist terror group. In 2015, that number rose to 19. Again in 2016, the numbers saw a rise and 54 people were arrested for pro-ISIS sentiments. In 2017, however, the number came down to 34.
However, these are just numbers of those arrested. The actual number of those who have joined the terror group is pegged to be much higher. As many as 88 Indians, the majority being from Kerala are believed to have joined ISIS. Shockingly, the political parties seem either in denial or are hesitant to effectively deal with extremist groups.
ISIS has been trying to gain a foothold in India in last few years, with reports emerging of the blueprint of turning Kashmir into an Islamic Caliphate. ISIS sympathizers and terrorists have been arrested from Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh as well.
When Indian Express uses the goodwill of law-abiding Muslim youths to whitewash the sins of the ones who have joined ISIS, or to obfuscate a national security issue of a village turning into an ISIS recruitment hub, it does no favours to the nation as well as the many Muslim youths who have nothing to do with ISIS and perhaps detest the phenomenon of Islamic extremism as much as the next person. In an attempt to apologise for Islamic extremism and soften the blow of the glaring national security issue of ISIS looming large, Indian Express does a massive disservice to those Muslims who, inadvertently, are being painted with the same brush as those who join the ranks of terrorists.
One wonders why Indian Media, which is an extension of Indian “liberals” choose to whitewash terrorism and fundamentalism in order to project themselves as the messiahs of Indian Muslims. We have seen how self-proclaimed “liberals” often turn out to be terror sympathisers, and hence, it is only natural that media would follow suit. However, it is always an astounding low when law-abiding Muslims are used for their terror apology.
Writing about horror stories of Muslim youths joining the ranks of ISIS with a human touch of innocent Muslims helping flood victims only helps to obfuscate a real issue, a serious one, that stares the nation and threatens to destabilise the country.
While it is indeed unfair to paint the entire community as terrorists just because of deeds of a few, it is also equally unfair to use the innocent Muslims as a plank to whitewash the sins of those who join the ISIS.