First it was a Facebook group, with mostly Malayalam posts, which raised a death threat against progressive Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin; then came the case of missing Keralites who are suspected to have gone abroad to join the ISIS terror group -- not just one or two, or a handful, but more than a score of them including families; and then there is news that the number of missing people from Kasaragod district alone in the last six months is about 50.
These are alarming pieces of news and in any other state in India, it would have set off a frenzied, heavy response from cops and intelligence agencies. Especially when the brutal Middle East terror group has expressed clearly its intention to "take back power" in India.
But in Kerala, it seems to be business as usual. No one has been arrested by the state police over this terror recruitment, or even about the Facebook page (which has been deactivated), or the death threat to a well-known writer. The only arrest so far has come from Mumbai, with the central agencies arresting a Keralite who was one of the ISIS ring leaders.
Surely, one person could not have indoctrinated so many people, arranged the logistics to sent them to the Mideast, and surely it would have taken more than a few days to pull off all this.
But not a single person who could have helped the terror recruiters, or helped with the brainwashing, or arranged the logistics, has been picked up so far. There are not even preventive arrests, detentions, or raids at any institutions suspected to have offered a stage for such activities – despite the overwhelming evidence the media is digging out every day.
Worse, the Kerala cops slept, or acted so, as all this was happening and woke up only when the relatives of the missing people raised a stink, media took up the case, and the shit hit the ceiling. How could they have allowed such a massive program to take place under their noses, especially when ISIS modules have been busted in several other states?
Granted, the ISIS and others of similar stripes have not been able to get a toe-hold in India but that is because Indian Muslims have largely refused to buy into their hyper-conservative interpretation of Islam, and because the central and many state governments have taken a tough line against militant ideologies. But that tough line seems to be strangely absent in Kerala. Even more appalling, political parties here have been long accused of shielding such elements, and the Muslim League's recent defense of controversial preacher Zakir Naik whose is under investigation by central agencies only serves to reaffirm those suspicions.
Are the cops in Kerala waiting for everyone involved in this conversion-and-terror recruitment ring to escape to safe havens? Why are they not arresting anyone involved in that Facebook page that spewed venom and raised death threat? Are they doing it to cover their own tardy record, or is it to shield the politicians involved?
One can always says that there is no "proof" of Kerala's political parties shielding militant elements but then nothing happens in Kerala without political involvement. And to the other line of defense that no one they have shielded professes a militant ideology, the answer is that you can even paint the devil as divine. And the bottom line on such cases should not be about to what degree an ideology seems militant to someone or the other, but as to what its impact could be on a peaceful society and how it could vitiate the social fabric of the state.
The Islamic State has shown what it stands for -- sex slavery, brutal killings, torture, denial of the right to live for anyone who does not follow its brand of militant Islam. There is no way anyone can defend it.
But the Kerala police and the politicians seem hell-bent on ignoring these facts on the ground. That has to stop, because they are playing with fire. Allowing such elements to get a toe-hold in Kerala, will only lead to communal conflagrations, playing into the hands of the proponents of the "Muslims are persecuted" spiel.
And if the line of thinking is, as some say, "good riddance, let these guys go and die in the terror camps," that may be taking a simplistic approach. These people can act as links to propagate their poisonous ideologies further in India, and even export terror back to India.
And what about those who helped this terror recruitment ring? Are you going to let them go as well so they can continue to do their damage? Are you going to let them roam free and suppress moderate voices in the Muslim community in India?
Kerala's government and police owe an explanation to the people on this.