A series of sacrilege incidents in Punjab have contributed immensely to the radicalisation of the youth, many of whom were influenced by foreign agencies to take up arms.
The incidents beginning June 2015 had dominated the political narrative and led to law and order problems but it was not known particularly to motivate persons towards terrorism.
This point has come up in the interrogation of 147 alleged ultras belonging to 29 terror modules busted by the Punjab Police since March 2017. Nearly 200 weapons besides grenades and 320-kg RDX was recovered from these persons. The police are in the process of further analysis of the disclosures made by the module members.
Analysis of the disclosures made by the alleged terrorists, mostly youngsters, reveals sacrilege as the main point that agitated their mind. Most of the modules busted before 2017 revealed that they were influenced on the issues of separate statehood, 1984 anti-Sikh riots and attack on Golden Temple.
Some of the youth, including one of the two women members of the modules, have a database ready reckoner of the sacrilege incidents. Their database had much more incidents than the official records. It seemed they were clearly influenced by the alleged fake news spread on social media, said a senior official privy to the analysis.
“Sacrilege is one of the main points that agitated the arrested youth though they were misinformed on many counts by agencies or groups operating across the border,” said DGP Dinkar Gupta. He said the police, however, managed to bust these modules in the nick of time and prevented any major incident.
The disclosures also revealed that once they followed social media posts on sacrilege issues they were approached by some persons, who sent additional material against the government. Later, when a person was radicalised, he/she was lured further into action and encouraged to spread the material via WhatsApp or post it on social media sites.
“Some of the youth revealed they were paid money, in few thousands, to put up graffiti or slogans on walls regarding the sacrilege incidents,” said police sources.
Those completely swayed by the narrative went further into procuring arms or explosives and planning a strike.
A significant number of the arrested youth had also participated in protests regarding the sacrilege incidents. The anti-India groups and agencies in foreign countries picked up from their participation in the events.
A terror module – ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ – busted by the Mohali police last year revealed that they were radicalised over Facebook and other social media platforms by individuals based in Pakistan, various middle-Eastern countries and the UK, the spokesman said. The four module members said they wanted to avenge the sacrilege incidents.
Two persons arrested with weapons in Amritsar in 2017 also said they aimed to avenge the sacrilege incidents. Three different modules, including the recent Tarn Taran blast case, also revealed they were radicalised on the issue of taking revenge of the sacrilege incidents.
- The arrested youth revealed that once they followed social media posts on sacrilege issues they were approached by some persons, who sent additional material against the govt.
- Some anti-India groups and foreign agencies picked them up from protests against such incidents.
- When a person was radicalised, he/she was lured further into action and encouraged to spread the material through WhatsApp or social media sites.
- Those completely swayed by the narrative went further into procuring arms or explosives and planning a strike.