Ever since the Islamic State burst into the global stage
in the summer of 2014, when it announced the establishment of a caliphate,
Western intelligence agencies have been scrambling for information on the
group and its sympathisers.
One of the key sources of information for them,
incidentally, is India because of several factors. The key factor is that
Indian agencies have sizeable da-ta on Indians who have gone to the IS
battlefields, or who were radicalised by IS handlers.
Indian agencies have interrogated or accessed information
about dozens of youths who have either been to Syria-Iraq or were
intercepted while on their way to the Iraq-Syria battlefield.
According to one source, 65 persons are undergoing de-radicalisation
after being in touch with the IS, while an-other 55 could be under watch.
About 20 are thought to be with the IS now, half a dozen are dead, and a
couple of them have returned to India.
European and U.S. intelligence agencies have been
struggling to stop further flow of their residents to the IS. According to a
French Senate report in April, of the over 3,000 European IS members, 1,430
are from France.
A news report said that the French intelligence was
monitoring another 1,570 people, and a further 7,000 are considered at risk
The Wembley event is unique in many ways, still it is
part of a planned series of diaspora events PM Modi has undertaken in the
past year. From San Jose to Sydney, from Madison Square Gardens in New York
to Dubai’s Sport City cricket stadium, and from Shanghai to Toronto.
Mr. Modi’s NRI outreach through massive arena functions
is unique, no other Indian PM has attempted on this scale.
In November alone, Wembley was the first of three such
events, with rallies planned in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore for audiences of
As they queue up for their passes to enter the Wembley
arena, many tell us what draws so many NRIs to Mr. Modi’s speeches. Some say
it is his “positive vibe”, while others refer to the “high expectations he
has generated for India”.
For decades, emigrating Indians have faced some shame for
“abandoning the motherland”, say NRIs Piyush Gohil and Avinash Varia, “Made
in India” sweatshirt-wearing volunteers on Mr. Modi’s welcome committee in
“We always lived with a corner of guilt in our hearts,”
says Mr. Gohil, who has run a small business in London for 12 years. “But by
attending Mr. Modi’s rallies, we still feel a part of India, and we feel
reassured that our values, our bonds are intact.” Mr. Modi’s message to NRIs
as a “brain gain, not a brain drain,” has particularly struck a chord with
Forsome businessman it is PM Modi’s message of Hindutva
and Indian values and traditions that draws them.
“There’s an inherent conservatism to any diaspora,”
explains one of Britain’s most famous NRIs, Lord Meghnad Desai. “Add to
that, a large chunk of them are businessmen or business professionals who
aren’t very political. That’s the core of PM Modi’s support base amongst the
diaspora, as his twin messages of pushing trade, while retaining religious
conservatism and right-wing beliefs perfectly align with theirs.”
While a more politically involved diaspora, of the kind
perhaps only Israel has at present, seems attractive for Mr. Modi and the
BJP’s campaigns, there are signs that there may be some unease from host
countries of the Indian diaspora over any “show of strength” or
“muscle-flexing” during the PM’s rallies abroad.
As a result, the “Namo in Singapore” website only accepts
registrations after people submit their Indian passport details. While
Singaporean officials haven’t explained their reasons officially, diplomats
say the measure was a result of the sometimes “hyper national” tone of Mr.
Modi’s speeches, and given Singapore’s long and tenuous history of
inter-racial tensions, these may not go down as well with the larger
Officials reportedly studied the PM’s rally in Dubai this
august, where similar tensions persist, especially amongst blue-collar
workers, and decided on the measure. When asked, Mr. Ram Madhav denies there
is any squeamishness over the events from the host countries in question. In
any case, Mr. Madhav points out, apart from East Africa and the Caribbean,
the PM has already visited all the countries that have big diasporic
populations, hinting there may be less occasion for such NRI extravaganzas
in the future.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now on a visit to the
United Kingdom, is learnt to have told his British counterpart David Cameron
that Indian intelligence agencies had information that two gurdwaras, one in
Birmingham and the other in Glasgow, were being used to espouse radical
views among the Sikh youth.
Mr. Modi is learnt to have told Mr. Cameron that radical
groups were being trained there with the help of live demonstrations to make
improvised explosive devices. These classes were held in December 2014 and
Babbar Khalsa International, which was banned in India,
had started an Internet radio which was accessible through its parent site www.khalsa-fauj.net.
The website allegedly glorified slain Khalistani militants.
Mr. Modi is believed to have told Mr. Cameron that funds
were collected by organisations such as the BKI, International Sikh Youth
Federation, Khalistan Commando Force, Khalistan Zindabad Force and sent to
intermediaries based in Punjab and Pakistan.
After his parleys at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister
Narendra Modi, who was accompanied by his counterpart David Cameron through
the entire day on Thursday, paid homage at the recently installed statue of
Mahatma Gandhi in London as British jets streaked the sky with the tricolor.
Later in the evening, after the Prime Ministers attended
a meeting of British MPs for a speech by Mr. Modi, they stood on the banks
of the Thames river where the iconic London Eye ferris wheel was also lit up
in the colours of the flag.
On the economic front, India announced the first
government-backed rupee denominated bond for the Indian Railways, which Mr.
Cameron called a part of the U.K.’s desire to become “the number one partner
to finance the immense economic vision of Prime Minister Modi and make
London the centre for of-shore rupee trading.” British and Indian companies
are expected to sign deals worth 9 billion pounds ($13.6 billion), Mr.
New mechanism Echoing the need to drive relations through
the economic partnership, Mr. Modi announced that the government will launch
a new fast track mechanism to channel British investments in India.
Addressing British MPs, Mr. Modi spoke of the bilateral talks on climate
change and clean energy cooperation. “In Britain, you are more likely to use
an umbrella against the rain than the sun,” Mr. Modi said to much laughter
from the audience.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day visit to the
U.K. beginning Thurs-day will focus on defence and strategic ties and
economic relations, with deals estimated at a reported $18 billion expected
to be signed during the visit.
The highlight, however, is expected to be the address to
Indians and NRIs at Lon-don’s Wembley Stadium, likely to be attended by over
60,000 people Significantly, Mr. Modi will be introduced at Wembley by U.K.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who will also accompany him through most of
the vis-it, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said.
The highlights of the visit include lunch with Queen El-izabeth
II, dinner and an overnight stay at Chequers court, the U.K. PM’s official
country retreat, as well as the first address by an Indian Prime Minister to
the British Parliament. Mr. Modi and Mr. Cameron will pay respects to
Mahatma Gandhi at a newly installed statue out-side Parliament, and are
expected to issue several joint statements on the defence and strategic
partnership, energy and climate change, development partnership, and a
For the first time ever, the Red Arrows aerobatics team
of the British Royal Air Force will spew fumes in the tricolour of the
Indian flag in a flypast on Thursday to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi
on his visit.
Besides a possible announcement for the purchase of 20
more Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft for the Indian Air Force, Mr.
Modi’s visit will see high-level consultations on British investments in the
defence sector under the Make in India programme, and stepping up of
bilateral coordination over terrorism-related issues.