Days after the Central government banned the Jamaat-e-Islami, Jammu and Kashmir, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the government is said to be considering a curb on the online presence of the organisation, accusing it of using social media platforms to propagate its ideology and garner support.
Based on inputs by agencies, the government is set to give its nod to block the organisation’s website — jamaateislamijk.org — and plans to curb Jamaat’s social media activities on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, sources said.
“While a tribunal led by a judge will look into the Home Ministry’s ban order, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) is allegedly misusing the social media platforms to build a narrative against the government’s order. The notification banning JeI for five years was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS),” a senior government official said.
The JeI’s Twitter handle has more than 5,800 followers, and on Thursday it had tweeted a photograph showing the organisation’s central offices being sealed. The post stated, “…Jamaat has already announced to challenge this arbitrary ban on our right peaceful assembly and religious freedom in the court of law.”
On Facebook, the organisation has termed the ban by the Centre as “unconstitutional” and “undemocratic”. The Facebook page, according to details available on its profile, was started in January 2013.
The Jamaat-e-Islami had earlier been banned, for two years, in 1975, and in April 1990 for three years.
In its order, the MHA had cited Jamaat’s close association with the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) for the move to make it unlawful.
“A conglomerate of organisations with separatist and terrorist leanings, APHC has been ideologically supporting Pakistan-sponsored violent terrorism. JeI (J&K) was instrumental behind APHC with the support of Pakistan,” according to the ministry.
An MHA official said, “This organisation has nothing to do with the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind [formed at the time of Independence]. In 1953, JeI J&K enacted its own constitution. It is the main organisation responsible for propagation of separatist and radical ideology in Kashmir valley. The group is also responsible for formation of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), the biggest terror organisation active in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Citing intelligence reports, an official said, “JeI provides all kinds of support to HM in terms of recruits, funding, shelter, logistics and with the support of Pakistan. HM is actively spearheading terrorist activities in Kashmir.”
While declaring it an “unlawful organisation”, the Centre had reasoned that the group was looking at escalating its subversive activities, including attempts to carve out an Islamic state out of India by de-establising the government established law, sources said.
According to MHA, the JeI has a large number of cadres in south Kashmir, where militant activities have been on the rise, particularly after the encounter-killing of HM militant Burhan Wani in 2016.
“A sizeable section of JeI (J&K) cadres overtly worked for militant organisations, especially HM. Its cadres are actively involved in subversive activities of HM by providing hideouts. HM’s strong presence in the area of influence of JeI is a clear reflection of separatist and radical ideology of the outfit,” another MHA official said.
In November 1997, seven years after Hizbul Mujahideen called itself the military wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, the ameer (chief) of the organisation, had publicly distanced JeI from militancy.