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Allowing Indians to fight Islamic State will result in sectarian conflict, says govt

New Delhi: Allowing Indians to take part in the conflict in Iraq or Syria would “directly result in sectarian conflict” in the country and amount to promoting terrorism, the government has said while defending its refusal to allow members of a religious body to go to Iraq to protect holy shrines there from ISIS activities.

In an affidavit filed before the Delhi high court, the Union home ministry has said that “allowing any sect to take part in the conflict in Iraq or Syria would have repercussions on other sects in India. This could directly result in sectarian conflict within India, which is not in the interest of the nation.”

It said the visit of a six-member delegation of Anjuman-e-Haideri (AeH), which was disallowed from going to Iraq, “was primarily meant to discuss modalities of sending registered volunteers to protect holy shrines in Iraq.”

“Indian citizens cannot be permitted to go to a foreign country with a declared objective of taking part in any conflict in such foreign countries as the safety and security of such persons would be at stake and it would adversely impact friendly relations with foreign countries.

“Allowing an Indian to go to another country to take part in a conflict (which amounts to taking part in terrorist activities) would lead to the allegation that Indian government is promoting terrorism in other countries,” the home ministry's affidavit said.

The affidavit was filed by the home ministry in response to a plea by advocate Mehmood Pracha who had questioned the government's decision to issue a look-out circular against him to prevent him from travelling to Iraq to do relief work and oppose ISIS activities there.

The home ministry said the activities of the religious organization AeH, of which Pracha is a member, in “attempting to mobilize members of a particular sect of the community in India to participate in a conflict in a foreign country are in absolute contravention of the law and stated policy of the country.”

The Home Ministry said its action to off-load the delegation was “strictly in accordance with law and no constitutional rights of the petitioner have been violated in any manner.”

It said if the volunteers were allowed to go into conflict zones, they “could get radicalized and on their return, could indulge in extremist activities in India too.”