The business of militancy
LOOK at those youngsters throwing bricks at the police in the name of Islam! Those pranksters are making a mockery of religion instead of doing anything good. And then read the hair-raising stories about another young man's castle-madrasa (literally with a moat, draw-bridge and dungeon) in Bhola where bullets and bombs were made to protect Islam! Now we hear that some of those weapons and bullets were sold to river pirates of that remote area. Good Lord! What do we hear next!
There are hundreds of such madrasas where thousands of youngsters are being given training on how to make and use firearms, swords, explosives etc., to protect Islam. Islam khatreimei hei ... Islam is in great trouble ... and it needs to be rescued. And these wayward pranksters will rescue it! Who do they think they are? God sent saviours? Knights in shining armour? If they think they were serving Islam then why did they run away like common thieves when Rab raided their hideout in Bhola? Why didn't they challenge Rab if they hadn't broken any law?
The steady rise in the number of youngsters in the militant groups is of utmost concern. And it is doubly disconcerting when we see young boys and girls in their late teens or early twenties coming from educated and well-off families joining the outfits. Their joining boosts the morale of the masterminds who feel happy to have penetrated one more stratum in society. What drives such young people, studying at prestigious institutes at home or abroad, to join a movement that is built on fantasies and is destined to turn bloody any time?
Here I would like to recount the "close encounter" of a student of Barisal Medical College with some recruiters. He said that soon after his admission some young men in Islamic dress and headgear came to his hostel room and wanted to talk. They asked about his parents and about his academic achievements so far. Then they invited him to attend prayers with them in the following week in a particular mosque and listen to the boyan (sermon) of their hujur. Two of the young men were senior students of the same medical college and two were madrasa teachers.
The foursome came again the following night and openly offered to send home-cooked food for him two times a day for the next five years since hostel food was not good. And they also offered to buy him all the medical books he needed. His other financial needs would also be met. All he had to do was join their group and support their "mission" of establishing Islamic sharia law in the country.
The young man was flabbergasted but was not in the mood to accept anything that came free, especially from people who came in the middle of the night. He politely told them to leave him alone. Later, he found out that these groups targeted brilliant students and offered them financial support in exchange of their commitment for joining them.
All over the country, out of sheer poverty, thousands of young people are joining questionable madrasas where money flows abundantly. Who cares where it comes from! The operators of those madrasas are getting rich overnight with foreign money that comes in the name of the madrasas. Most of them blatantly cheat when they prepare the yearly reports and declare the number of students they have enrolled.
Many chain young students to pillars so that they cannot escape, and sexual abuse is not infrequent. In most of these madrasas, besides Bangla, students are taught to give their sermons in Urdu (why Urdu when their audience is Bangalis!). Reportedly, in one such madrasa, green and white are the colours of the pajama and kurta. We understand why.
Let us come back to the city-bred youngsters from affluent backgrounds joining militant outfits. Many educated youngsters are opting to become militants more as a fashion than anything else. They have exhausted all avenues of having fun, like fast driving, rock music, dance parties, yaba, shisha etc., and are now "trying out" militancy as the new way to "chill." They find it "super cool" to play around with weapons, and it feels good to feel important. It is indeed a new dimension that needs to be studied with due seriousness by competent authorities.
The audacity of the pranksters to attack state forces or opening up militancy training centres in the country only reconfirms that it has become too easy to sell Islam in this country, all sorts of home grown versions, to the poor and credulous humans ready to swallow anything that comes free. If it comes with some bonus offer, like cash money, then it is even better. And if taking a few lives in the name of Islam would land one in heaven the quickest way, what can be more tempting? The administration has to wake up and do what it needs to do to avoid a bloodbath in the near future.