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Once under ISIS influence, men in Maha make a new beginning

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

Ansari (name changed) runs a mobile phone repair shop in Maharashtra's district. But, nobody would imagine that only two years ago, he was on the verge of joining the dreaded terror outfit by travelling to Iraq, thousands of kilometres away.

Thanks to an initiative of the Anti- Squad (ATS), Ansari changed his mind and underwent an employment training programme after escaping clutches of the Islamic State of and Syria's (ISIS) online 'recruiters' who had almost radicalised him.

He is not the only one. There are many such young men in Maharashtra, mainly in the industrially backward Marathwada region, who had once fallen victim to ISIS' propaganda but are now leading a normal life with the help of the employment training programme, a senior ATS told

Ansari, a 35-year-old graduate, lost his job as a in 2016 and began spending a lot of time surfing online, where he came in contact with some sympathisers and soon got radicalised.

"His brought him under our scanner," the said.

The ATS sleuths realised that Ansari had become a victim of propaganda and he was counselled in a bid to de-radicalise him, he said.

The said the ATS runs a de-radicalisation programme for such people to once again join the mainstream with the help of religious leaders and clerics.

But the real problem was that Ansari had no job, and there were many more like him, he said.

In Marathwada, the ATS in the last two years identified as many as 400 young men who were suspectedly under the influence of ISIS.

In all the cases, the started chatting with his target about "atrocities" on Muslims in to gauge the person's views, the official said.

After the person was successfully radicalised, he would be taught how to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) or other weapons, he said, adding that some were also encouraged to join the ISIS in Iraq, where the militant outfit once controlled large swaps of territory.

Notably, the ATS last month arrested nine men from Aurangabad and Thane districts for allegedly planning chemical attacks with an intent to cause mass casualty at public events by contaminating and water, he pointed out.

In 2018, the ATS had arrested a 36-year-old man from district who came in contact with ISIS and received instructions on how to make IEDs.

He made bombs and even carried out trials, the official said, adding that he was arrested along with four others before he could use the IED for a terrorist act.

said they realised that unemployment was one of the major reasons for such men from the Muslim community most of whom were from Marathwada -- getting and falling into ISIS' trap.

"The challenge was to bring these people back to normal life, and we found a solution in the Rural Self-Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs), run by the Union rural development ministry," said Kulkarni.

As many as 239 such men were imparted training at these institutes last year. Besides, the anti-terror cells formed at police station-levels identified 15 men who were also trained in self-employment, another said.

Thirty such men secured after undergoing training and started their own businesses, Kulkarni said.

Appreciating the initiative, RSETI authorities agreed to train the candidates short-listed by ATS on priority basis.

The ATS also approached the and the Bank of Maharashtra, which agreed to offer loans to the short-listed men after they underwent training, he said.

The initiative began with some 270 young men, who were trained in mobile phone repairing. Another batch is now receiving training in fitting electric wires, a police official said.

Ansari is one of the examples of this initiative's success. After being imparted counselling, he was recommended for a short training course in mobile repairing at an RSETI, he added.

Now, he runs a small mobile repair shop of his own, far away from

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, February 10 2019. 10:45 IST