NEW DELHI: Allowing Indians to take part in the conflict in Iraq or Syria would "directly result in sectarian conflict" here and amount to promoting terrorism, the government has said while defending its refusal to allow members of a religious body to go to Iraq to protect holy shrines there from ISIS activities.
In an affidavit in the Delhi High Court, the Union Home Ministry said that "allowing any sect to take part in the conflict in Iraq or Syria would have repurcussions on other sects in India. This could directly result in sectarian conflict within India, which is not in the interest of the nation."
It said the visit of a six-member delegation of Anjuman-e-Haideri (AeH), which was disallowed from going to Iraq, "was primarily meant to discuss modalities of sending registered volunteers to protect holy shrines in Iraq."
"Indian citizens cannot be permitted to go to a foreign country with a declared objective of taking part in any conflict in such foreign countries as the safety and security of such persons would be at stake and it would adversely impact friendly relations with foreign countries.
"Allowing an Indian to go to another country to take part in a conflict (which amounts to taking part in terrorist activities) would lead to the allegation that Indian government is promoting terrorism in other countries," the Home Ministry's affidavit said.
The affidavit was filed by MHA in response to a plea by advocate Mehmood Pracha who had questioned the government's decision to issue a Look Out Circular (LOC) against him to prevent him from travelling to Iraq to do relief work and oppose ISIS activities there.
The MHA said the activities of the religious organisation AeH, of which Pracha is a member, in "attempting to mobilise members of a particular sect of the community in India to participate in a conflict in a foreign country are in absolute contravention of the law and stated policy of the country".
The MHA said its action to off-load the delegation was "strictly in accordance with law and no constitutional rights of the petitioner have been violated in any manner".
It said if the volunteers were allowed to go into conflict zones, they "could get radicalised and on their return, could indulge in extremist activities in India too".
The Ministry said "various leaders of a particular sect of the community" had urged the government not to permit any Indian to go and fight on a foreign land as it would amount to cross-border terrorism from the perspective of the other country.
Seeking disbanding of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) which had issued the LoC against him, Pracha in his affidavit has contended that IB has become an "uncontrollable all-powerful, extra-constitutional establishment in itself which runs parallel to the democratically-elected government".
In response, the MHA said that the intelligence body had well-defined and clearly delegated powers, duties and functions, which are regularly reviewed by the government and subject to the scrutiny of both the legislature and audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
According to the petition, Pracha came to know about the Look Out Cicrular when he and five other delegates were on their way to Iraq on November 24, 2014, but were stopped from boarding their flight and an endorsement 'offloaded' was made on their passports.
All of them were detained for several hours at the airport police station, the petition has alleged.
It said that passports of the five others travelling with Pracha were suspended with effect from November 24 last year, by a letter of December 2, 2014 and questioned how such retrospective action can be taken.
The December 2, 2014 order, however, was withdrawn by another letter of February 17, 2015, the petition said.
They had intended to travel to Iraq to discuss with the authorities there the modalities regarding the proposed humanitarian mission, for which they had received support of many volunteers, the petition claimed.