Whatever has happened in Afghanistan is a message for everyone. If a group of radical fighters, called Taliban, can take over an entire country, then there is every reason why we should be apprehensive of similar radical movements arising in other parts of the world.
In this context, Shalabh Mani Tripathi, information advisor of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has tweeted, “Listen to this news from UP amidst the barbarism of Taliban. Yogiji has decided to open an ATS commando centre in ‘Deoband’ with immediate effect. Work on the command centre has also started on war footing” Tripathi also disclosed, “About one and a half dozen bright ATS officers selected from across the state will be posted here.”
As per Zee News, the ATS commando centre is being set up given the catastrophic situation in Afghanistan. It reported that the Yogi government is already getting alert to rein in Taliban sympathisers.
Apart from Deoband, Anti Terror Squad (ATS) centres will also be set up in Lucknow and Noida. These ATS commando centres are being established by the Yogi government in the context of contemporary circumstances and challenges. The commandos will be trained under the supervision of the Special Protection Guard (SPG) and Army officers. These commandos will, of course, be trained to handle terror attacks.
But why has Deoband been chosen? Well, it seems that the Yogi government wants to protect sensitive areas from any kind of radicalisation. In 2002, NYT had reported, “Indian Town’s Seed Grew Into the Taliban’s Code.” NYT was actually referring to Deoband in Uttar Pradesh in this report.
In 2009, the Combating Terrorism Center of the US Military Academy at West Point published a report that stated, “Deobandi Islam is the most popular form of pedagogy in the Pashtun belt on both sides of the Durand Line that separates Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moreover, prominent Afghan and Pakistani Taliban leaders have studied in Deobandi seminaries.”
It also stated, “The Soviet Union eventually withdrew from Afghanistan, and Deobandi became the religious base for much of the Taliban movement that ruled Afghanistan until 2001. Many Taliban leaders and fighters studied in Deobandi seminaries, many of which were influenced by Wahhabism. Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban, is the product of a Deobandi seminary. Moreover, the top bracket of the current Taliban leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan studied in Deobandi seminaries on both sides of the Durand Line.”
The USMA report further stated that there was a severance of institutional links between Deobandi seminaries in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in India after the partition of India in 1947. Nevertheless, Delhi Police filed a chargehseet against Maulana Asim Umar, also known as Sanaul Haq, the chief of AQIS (al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent) in the year 2019.
Umar, a resident of UP’s Sambhal, had studied at Deoband’s Darul-Uloom and had left India in 1995 to join Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a Pakistan-based terror outfit. He had then remained in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Officials alleged that through online videos, Umar instigated many Indian youths. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) too seized videos of radical sermons from search in Amroha.
Umar’s attempts to expand AQIS in India were foiled successfully but with Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan, there is every chance that Taliban-affiliated organisations will try to instigate a similar ideology in India. Yet, the Yogi government seems ready to meet any such challenge and has proactively moved to establish commando centres and nip any pro-Taliban voices in the bud.