Tip of the Iceberg: Coronavirus Exposes Islamic Preachers Influx into India

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(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)

Coronavirus is blessing in disguise what with the exposure of influx of Tabligh Jammat Islamic preachers to include: group of seven Thai preachers who had come to Erode district to teach at two mosques; group of 10 Indonesian preachers; and 10 Kyrgyzstan preachers hiding in a mosque in Patna’s Kurji area.

India must take a cue from Sri Lanka who had reportedly ordered 161 foreign Muslim preachers to leave the country for flouting visa regulations. The clerics had no right to preach in mosques because they had arrived on tourist visas. Also, the clerics were not teaching a moderate form of Islam.

Is the latest expose only the “Tip of the Iceberg”? Three revelations have exposed the harsh realities of consolidation and advancement of Islam and Muslims in India.

First, the group of Indonesians said to have arrived in New Delhi on February 22. 10 of them along with three Indians arrived in Karimnagar on March 14. The group is reportedly traveled in coach number S9 of Andhra Pradesh Sampark Kranti (train no 12708) and got off at Ramagundam.

The identity of group of 10 Indonesian Islamic ‘preachers’, accompanied by three Indians, got revealed when one of its member was tested positive followed by 7 others testing positive –  ‘preachers’ from Indonesia.

They had been travelling across Karimnagar for at least three days. The group stayed in two masjids at Mukarampura and Housing Board Colony areas. In the course of their religious campaign, they also went about meeting people in some localities in the town. Special branch police, who found the foreign nationals in the town, brought them to the district headquarters hospital, where one person showed symptoms such as cough, cold and fever.

Consequently, it has become a logistical nightmare to detect persons who came in close contact with the Indonesian nationals.

Two, seven Thai nationals, all Islamic preachers belonging to the Tabligh Jamaat, reportedly landed at Delhi on 6 March and reached Erode by the Millennium Express on 10 March. They spent time at least three mosques, including Sultanpet Markaz Masjid, and Kollampalayam Masjid-E-Thaqva until 15 March.

One of the seven, a 49-year-old person in the group, showed symptoms of Coronavirus but doctors said his death was due to complications such as diabetic nephropathy, sepsis and pulmonary edema, has died. The remaining six of the group were later shifted to IRT Perundurai Medical College near Erode. They were screened for Coronavirus on 17 March and on Saturday, the tests reported positive for Covid-19.

Erode district administration, under the direction from the state health secretary, also home quarantined 136 people in the area and started affixing stamps before their houses from Monday morning.

Three, Patna police detained 10 Kyrgyzstan Muslim preachers hiding in a Mosque in Kurji area, preaching since January 2020. As per media reports, these people had hidden in the Mosque located near Gate No. 74 in the locality, with the help of few local Muslims. Since they were religious preachers, they have been roaming around freely in Bihar.

Finally, media reports of two Iranians stay in a Hotel in Lalitpur, which was sealed for not reporting about their stay.

The cases of Islamic preachers from Indonesia, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan and Iran roaming around in India’s cities and towns is a matter of serious concern from national security point of view.

Ipso facto, India has already in its fold a large number of die-hard Islamic preachers from various hubs to include: Darul Uloom, located at Deoband, a town in Saharanpur district, Uttar Pradesh, propagating the Sunni Deoband Islamic movement; Markaz Saqafathi Sunniyya also called Markaz, Jamia Markaz, or Sunni Markaz, at Kozhikode in Kerala; Ma’dinu Saquafathil Islamiyya located in Mallapuram, Kerala with affiliation to Gulf States; Darul Huda in Kerala with international connections; Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow; Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi; Jamia Darussalam, Oomerabad; Al-Jame-atul-Islamia, Uttar Pradesh; Jamia Nizamia, Hyderabad; Manzar-e-Islam, Bareilly; and so on. Not to be left out is the famous illegal Zakir Naik’s Islamic International School in Mumbai.

In sum, there is no dearth of traditional Islamic schools propagating Islam in India with international connections what with unending financial flows. And, all the Madrassa‘s under local Masjid’s also imbibe in the children the Koran prescriptions.

If so, where is the need for the Islam preachers from alien countries to propagate Islam in India?

Why are they being permitted to enter into the country? Surely, alien Islamic preachers must be denied Visas to enter into the country. And, the Home and the External Affairs Ministries must formulate and issue strict guidelines for implementation.

The cases reported thus far mercilessly exposes how easy it is to breakthrough our immigration counters and internal security management agencies.

Never too late for the local police CID and NIA intelligence agencies carryout detailed investigations into how many Islamic preachers from various alien countries are roaming around carrying out religious activities.

In fact, it must start with hotels nearby New Delhi and Delhi Railway stations, Indira Gandhi Airport and also local Masjid’s to verify the background details of all Muslim preachers of alien nations.

Similarly, the search, detection and detention of all alien Muslim preachers must be carried out at all known cities and towns to include: West Bengal; Assam; Kerala; Uttar Pradesh; Maharashtra; Telangana; Bihar; Madhya Pradesh; Karnataka; Tamil Nadu; Haryana; Orissa; and so on.

Most important source of intelligence collection and analysis will be done from their mobile phones. In fact, they may provide all clues and details of their activities including aid and abetment of Indian Mujahedin, SIMI, ISIS and Al Qaeda activities, particularly CAA, NRC and NPR protests.

 Intelligence agencies in collaboration with the Economic Intelligence Units must also collect all evidence of financial transaction by the said alien Muslim preachers.

Viewed in the content and context of growing Islamist terrorism aided and abetted by both state and non-state actors from across the borders and also by the diehard Islamist fundamentalists like Zakir Naik pouring venom, it is high time for the government to ensure strict pro-active screening and monitoring at point of entry to prevent the influx of Islamic preachers.

Surely, Islamic clerics who enter India based on tourist visas have no right to preach in Mosques and Madrassa’s.   All of them must be identified, detained and expelled post haste.

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