NEW DELHI: Turkey on Monday piled pressure on the Indian government to clamp down on the group led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Istanbul has held responsible for the failed coup attempt in July.
Turkish authorities in India have written to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Maharashtra government seeking action against the institutions that are linked to the Gulen-led group, which has been identified by Turkey as Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO). “We have requested Indian and Maharashtra governments that all institutions in Mumbai and elsewhere, connected with this network, be closed,” Turkey consul general Erdal Sabri Ergen told the media in Mumbai.
“Everything connected with this network should be closed. They should be put under a microscope. This is an illegal network with a sinister design in mind,” he said.
The Turkish ambassador to India, Burak Akcapar, said in July that FETO did have a presence in India and that his country expected action to be taken against it. “We think they (FETO) have no place here,” Akcapar had said. Gulen, on a self-imposed exile in the US since 1999 following a military coup in 1997, is known in India as a spiritual leader and has been operating many schools and colleges across the country. A majority of these schools are in Delhi and Hyderabad. The preacher and his movement have presence in over 100 countries.
Representatives of 75-year-old Gulen, described as a moderate Muslim cleric, had participated in the International Sufi Festival attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here earlier this year. Gulen and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had shared a good relationship in the past, but later the equations changed and the government started hounding him and his movement. “Our Ambassador has informed Indian authorities. We believe the Indian authorities already had the information. Our communication with Maharashtra government is in parallel to what our Ambassador is doing in Delhi,” Ergen added.
Reacting to the development, an official source said, “India is looking into the request made by Turkey.”