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How Kolkata girl Tania Parveen turned to violent jihad to ‘find answers’

Tania Parveen was arrested on 20th March 2020. Several Pakistani SIM cards were found in her possession. She was reportedly traced through her social media.

Born to Nurnehar Khatun and Alamin Mondal in Malaypur village in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas, 21-year-old Tania Parveen had a tough childhood. As per a report by News18, despite the hardships, her mother ensured she gets best education. Parveen, along with her younger sibling studied in a private school, the London Missionary Society where she scored 90% in her exams. In 2019, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Arabic from Kolkata’s Moulana Azad College.

However, as per the report, a 2017 incident of communal violence sowed the seed of violent jihad in her mind. On 2nd July 2017, a teenaged boy posted an image of Prophet Muhammad on Facebook and Kaaba. This sparked outrage and a Muslim mob went on a rampage and attacked Hindu homes. Dozens of houses and shops belonging to Hindus were gutted. One person was killed and almost two dozen were left injured.

Tania Parveen turned to Delwar Hossain Sayeedi

To find ‘answers’ for the questions, in 2018, as per the NIA, Tania Parveen turned to Bangladeshi Islamic preacher Delwar Hossain Sayeedi. Sayeedi has been accused and convicted in connection with the war crimes that were meted out on the people of East Pakistan who supported the idea of an independent sovereign nation of Bangladesh. Sayeedi was a member of the private militia ‘Razakars’, raised by the Pakistani Army as a part of its crackdown against the pro-Bangladeshi supporters.

Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, the top Jamaat-e-Islami leader, presided over the genocide of Hindus and pro-Bangladeshi supporters during the 1971 war. The International Crimes Tribunal(ICT) in 2013 charged him of 20 counts including guilty of charges including mass murder, torture, forcefully converting Hindus to Islam and brutal rapes of women. Of the 20 charges against him, Sayeedi was sentenced to death for two—the murders of Ibrahim Kutti and Bisabali, and for setting fire to Hindu households in Pirojpur in 1971.

Inspired by Sayeedi’s messages, Tania Parveen joined various Islamist-leaning WhatsApp groups named Voice of Islam, Islamic Ummah and Human Brotherhood. As per News18 report, all these WhatsApp groups talked about same message that India is a part of countries who are going to carry out genocide against Muslims. And the only way to counter this was armed jihad.

Tania Parveen and violent jihad

As per the report, an analysis of Parveen’s WhatsApp conversations showed that she found freedom and adventure in jihad which her everyday life denied her. News18 describes Parveen’s jihadi dreams as an Islamist version of the female superhero Wonder Woman who was leading like-minded pack of other ‘superheroes’ fighting the evil, that is is Indian state.

She even developed a romantic relationship with Kashmir-based Altaf Ahmed Rather. While the romance did not go anywhere, Rather’s WhatsApp group brought her in tough with Bilal Durrani, a Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist working in Pakistan. He gave Parveen a virtual Pakistani number to join the WhatsApp group as Indian numbers are banned fearing surveillance.

Rise of Tania Parveen in Jihadi hierarchy

Under the pseudonym ‘Abu Jundal’, Tania Parveen soon grew as a jihadi and began administering as many as five WhatsApp groups towards the end of 2019. These were all linked to Lashkar-e-Toiba, says NIA. Tania Parveen was in touch with multiple Lashkar commanders based in Pakistan.

Soon, she got in touch with Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI officer ‘Rana’. ‘Rana’ offered her money to recruit local jihadis. However, she had little success. She added two of her female friends to her WhatsApp group, Ghumnaam Tigers, who left immediately. Her college acquaintances also showed little interest in jihadi activities. Only one of her friend was active in the jihadi WhatsApp group.

Here, ‘Rana’ was unhappy that Parveen could not recruit more people and hence asked her to try and seduce Indian Air Force and Indian Army personnel through fake Facebook ID, Priya Sharma. A junior officer even contacted her but she panicked when the officer asked for a video chat.

‘Rana’ asked her to go ahead with the video chat but Tania Parveen schooled him on how Islam forbids her from removing her veil. The two got into heated arguments and Praveen broke all contacts with ‘Rana’. As per the charge sheet, in March, 2019, when the NIA arrested over a dozen people linked to online jihadist activity, Praveen was running at least six pseudonymous accounts: ‘Mustafa, ‘Hamza Tahir’, ‘Mutahijab’, ‘Abrar Fahad’, ‘Ibnu Adam’ and ‘Abu Thurab’.

NIA arrested Tania Parveen in March 2020

Tania Parveen was arrested on 20th March 2020. Several Pakistani SIM cards were found in her possession. She was reportedly traced through her social media.

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