UP ATS plans ghar wapsi of youths from path of radicalisation

Express News Service, India/April 27, 2017

By Namita Bajpai

Lucknow -- It’s another attempt at ‘ghar wapsi’ (homecoming), but by the UP cops and not the Hindu fringe elements. The UP Anti-Terrorism Squad has taken up a unique public outreach task to de-radicalise misguided youth and bring them back to the mainstream by means of counseling.

A covert programme undertaken by the ATS cops encompasses the idea of de-radicalising those self-taught, self radicalised youth, who -- fixated by the ISIS ideologies and its flavour of jehad -- are about to take the first leap into the dark world which never allows a safe return.

After the April 20 crackdown on such ‘jehadis in making’, four of whom were arrested and half a dozen detained in an operation panning across five states including Maharatshtra, Punjab, Bihar and Bengal besides UP, ATS sleuths embarked up on the endeavour following the directives of CM Yogi Adityanath. In fact, the increasing instances and evidence hinting at soaring number of youth getting influenced by extremism prompted ATS to launch the initiative.

The project, already launched, has taken those six youths, who were detained during April 20 operation, into its fold for de-radicalisation. It is believed that the four suspects – Faizaan from Bijnor (UP), Nazim from Mumbra (Mumbai), Ahtesham from Narkatiyaganj (Bihar) and Muzammil aka Ghazi Baba from Jalandhar (Punjab) – had radicalised six youths held in Shamli in Muzaffarnagar to use them for carrying out terror strikes at places like Varanasi, Mathura, Ayodhya, Lucknow and other targets.

Adding a new leaf to the project, ATS announced two helpline numbers -- (0522)-2304586 and 9792103156 -- for the family of these misguided youths to alert police about their ‘dubious’ activities if noticed.

“Our de-radicalisation plan also aims at supporting the families of such youths as their parents and siblings become victim of their activities and suffer,” says ATS inspector general Asim Arun.

At present, de-radicalisation of over two dozen youths, including the six detained recently, is on with the help of district police administration. These youths, according to the IG, are from seven districts across UP including Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Muzaffarnagr and Bijnor.  These radicalised youth are identified by ATS by keeping a watch on their posts, likes and comments on various social media sites.

Outlining the finer points of the project, senior ATS officials say that it is based on the confidence that the relatives and friends of such elements will sound the cops on noticing them visiting suspicious sites or getting radicalised by online jehadi literature. The intention is also to keep these youngsters away from the eyes of various terror groups who could use them to execute their sinister designs in the country.

Elaborating on the programme further, IG Arun says that programme seeks to rope in families and parents of the misguided youth to dissuade them from moving on the path of crime and terror. “Moreover, the clerics are also included in the process to make them understand the religion in right perspective,” avers the IG adding that identities of all are kept a close secret.

Spelling out other details of how the cops go about the programme, the IG says that police visit the youths at their house for a week and also call them to their place to ensure the continuity of interaction.  “The youths are counselled and convinced by the police officers to join the mainstream shunning the path of violence. If they find any difficulty in return, the cops try and sort it out,” IG Arun maintains.

Gradually the frequency of meetings is reduced from week to fortnight. Occasionally, the officers talk to the youth over phone. During the process of de-radicalisation, the activities of the persons are kept under strict vigil.

“A youth is believed to be de-radicalised after a year of counselling especially when he gets a job and marries,” says a senior ATS official and reiterates the fact that de-radicalisation is never guaranteed and police always remain on alert.

However, those de-radicalised youth are never used as police informers in any operation against other terror suspects.

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