NEW DELHI: The NDA government is scouting for “moderate” Islamic scholars for taking part in a conference organised as part of its plans to stop young Muslims from joining extremist groups.
Indian missions abroad are now curating names for the conference, slated for next month, which will be organised by the RSS-linked think tank Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), where Ajit Doval had served as director till he took over as National Security Advisor.
A senior government official said that efforts were being channelled from the Prime Minister’s Office and that Doval was the main driver behind the event. “We are still searching and finalising the names of moderate Islamic scholars from various parts of the world,” said the official. The conference will be second such event with religious overtones convened by the VIF. In September, it co-organised a Hindu-Buddhist conclave.
The global conference with its focus on “moderate” Islamic thought is also part of the Modi government’s multi-pronged effort to send an effective message against radicalisation. Counter-radicalisation with the promotion of the “moderate” views of Islamic scholars is a key peg in the government’s counter-terrorism policy. The latest mention of the policy was made by Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju in the Lok Sabha on December 8. During Question Hour, he said the government had adopted a series of “broad-based strategies” to tackle the spread of the ideology of the Islamic State terror outfit.“An effective counter-radicalisation strategy has been adopted and subsequent to that, the deradicalisation process also has been adopted,” he said.
Contending that extremism needed to be countered “ideologically”, the minister said the government had taken up “cultural, educational and other economic activities to ensure that the radical ideology of the IS doesn’t spread in India”.
The counter-radicalisation policy had been in the works since 2014 under then IB chief Asif Ibrahim, who is now Modi’s special envoy on counter-terrorism.