Reintegrating Vulnerable Youth in Jammu and Kashmir: A deradicalization process model by Maharashtra Police in India.

Dr. Deepali Khaire

The emergence of Islamic State or Caliphate at the world level has changed the nature of terrorism in South Asia. In 2017, around 75 citizens from India had joined Islamic State in Syria. It has revealed the vulnerability of Indian youth to radicalization.
The major push factors are rising communal tension between Hindu and Muslims communities, desire of retaliation against real or perceived discrimination and religious polarization with the rise of new (majoritarian and homogenizing) nationalism. The online spread of Islamic ideology giving rise to ideological sense of calling, romanticism of ‘jihad’ and glorious past and loyalty towards political leaders or community acted as pull factors.
The central government’s decision of annulment of article 370 to integrate Jammu and Kashmir with India is major defining moment. The most daunting challenge is the rebuilding the confidence among the local population to have faith in Indian (inclusive) Nationalism. The weak political process within Jammu and Kashmir is further marginalized due to central government’s unilateral actions. The lockdown of the Kashmir valley has received mixed reactions from within and outside India. The possibility of rising radical Islam in Kashmir valley is major concern. The two-central question for present inquiry will be:
How the local political parties and the separatist will respond to the action of the central government? How to de-radicalize the youth in many militancy prone areas who are possible vulnerable targets for the religious extremist groups?
The deradicalization program launched by Maharashtra state police (Anti-Terrorism Squad) in 2014 has instructive potential. It builds on preventive model where ‘the candidates’ are identified often by family or community members or by state police through social media surveillance. The novelty and marked difference with western process is to avoid criminalization of youth by avoiding imprisonment or criminal charges, confidentiality of the process and to engage the youth with the help of psychologist and clergy to reclaim deceived individual. The program has reintegrated around 114 young men and 3 women within three years period. Though the environment in Jammu and Kashmir is different than other state’s but the micro, meso and macro level engagement with the youth can help to develop deradicalization model for youth in Jammu and Kashmir.