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In new JNU course, ‘jihadi violence’ is only form of ‘fundamentalist religious terror’

These are some of the key assertions in a new course on counter-terrorism for engineering students pursuing a dual degree programme at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi |
Updated: August 30, 2021 11:20:16 am
Another module, titled ‘State-sponsored Terrorism: It’s Influence and Impact’, refers only to the Soviet Union and China. (File/ Representational)

“Jihadi terrorism” is the only form of “fundamentalist-religious terrorism”, and Communist regimes in the erstwhile Soviet Union and China were the “predominant state-sponsors of terrorism” that influenced “radical Islamic states”.

These are some of the key assertions in a new course on counter-terrorism for engineering students pursuing a dual degree programme at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

The optional course, titled ‘Counter Terrorism, Asymmetric Conflicts and Strategies for Cooperation among Major Powers’, was cleared during a meeting on August 17 of the university’s Academic Council. The JNU Teacher’s Association has alleged that no discussion was allowed in the meeting in which the course was passed.

The course will be offered to students pursuing an MS with specialisation in International Relations after a BTech in Engineering — online classes for the monsoon semester start on September 20.

The Council is the university’s highest decision-making body for academic programmes. Its clearance for the course will have to be endorsed by the Executive Council, which decides on management and administrative issues, as part of procedure.

One of the new course’s modules, titled ‘Fundamentalist-religious Terrorism and its Impact’, states: “Fundamentalist – religious inspired terrorism has played a very critical and dominant role in the spawning of terrorist violence in the beginning of the 21st century. The perverse interpretation of the Koran has resulted in the rapid proliferation of a jihadi cultist violence that glorifies death by terror in suicidal and homicidal variants.”

It states: “The exploitation of the cyberspace by the radical Islamic religious clerics has resulted in the electronic propagation of jihadi terrorism world over. Online electronic dissemination of Jihadi terrorism has resulted in the spurt of violence in non-Islamic societies that are secular and are now increasingly vulnerable to the violence that (is) on the increase.”

Another module, titled ‘State-sponsored Terrorism: It’s Influence and Impact’, refers only to the Soviet Union and China.

“Terrorism has always a geographical base and support havens for its operations. State sponsored terrorism has been largely during the ideological war between the West and the Soviet Union and China. The Soviet Union and China have been predominant state-sponsors of terrorism and they have been heavily involved in terms of their intelligence agencies training, aiding and providing logistical support to Communist ultras and terrorists,” it states.

“In the post-Cold War period, the trend has been well adapted by several radical Islamic states that have mirrored the earlier tactical strategies of the Communist powers and have continued to aid and arm the various terrorist groups,” it reads.

When contacted by The Indian Express, Aswini Mohapatra, Dean of JNU’s School of International Studies (SIS) and concurrent faculty in the School of Engineering, said he was not involved in the design of the course.

Ruchir Gupta, Dean of the School of Engineering, said Arvind Kumar, Chairperson of the Centre for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies, wanted to introduce the course. “We have a joint programme with SIS, they asked us to pass this course so we passed it. I’m not an expert on international relations,” Gupta said.

Kumar confirmed to The Indian Express that he had designed the course. Asked about the reference to only one religion in the module on “fundamentalist-religious terrorism”, he said it was “because Islamic terrorism is a world-accepted thing. After the Taliban, it has gained momentum now.”

Kumar said that “to the best of my knowledge”, he has “not come across” an instance of any other religion resorting to methods of terrorism.

On the reference only to Soviet Union and China as “predominant state-sponsors of terrorism”, Kumar said: “State-sponsored terrorism is very difficult to define, we have to find evidence for it and only then we can include it.”

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