LONDON/HYDERABAD: An underground network of Islamic extremists has recruited a new generation of Indian-born terrorists by exploiting sectarian tensions in Hyderabad.
Authorities deny there is a homegrown terrorist threat to the country, instead blaming Pakistan for allowing attacks including the recent ones in Mumbai, to be launched across its borders.
But The Sunday Telegraph has learned that scores of young Muslim men have disappeared from Hyderabad, and are suspected to have gone to Pakistan to train under terror groups there. As many as 40 potential recruits are reported to have left the city, while many other young men remain untraced. "We have tried to establish where they have gone but we don't know," the paper quoted Hyderabad police commissioner Prasada Rao as saying.
The local police accuse two Islamic movements based in Hyderabad — the Darsgah Jihad-o-Shahadath (DJS) and the Tahreek Tahfooz Shaer-e-Islam (TTSI) — of allegedly acting as "feeder" groups for militants seeking recruits but the organisations denied the allegations.
Members of a third local group, the Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi) — carried out a gun attack on the police just days after the Mumbai attacks.
Extensive surveillance operations and intelligence investigations have failed to penetrate the inner workings of Hyderabad's radicals, officials admit.
Officials at the DJS madrassa were not willing to discuss the disappearance of the city's young men. While there is nothing to suggest that the organisation orchestrates terrorist acts, the DJS carries a message on its website that is explicit about the right of Muslims to resort to violence. "The DJS has trained and are training thousands of Muslim youths to defend themselves and to help, protect and defend the other Muslims," it states, before adding that once trained in "self -defence" members can leave to join any other Muslim group.
According to the paper, the atmosphere in Hyderabad's alleys and markets are marked by mutual loathing and suspicion between Muslim and Hindu sects. "Deprivation in the predominantly Muslim old city is palpable… The circumstances for Muslims have changed for the worse in the 60 years of India's independence," said Judge E. Ismail of the provincial Human Rights Commission."