Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) has initiated a "ghar wapsi" campaign to de- radicalise "misguided" persons and 25 youth from various districts are being counselled after a tab was kept on their online activities.
The initiative comes after the ATS recently arrested four suspected terrorists from the ISIS Khorasan module and came across posts, likes and remarks of these youths on social media which showed that they were being radicalised.
Keeping in mind the influence of ISIS sympathisers on youth, the ATS has unveiled a 12-point strategy for the Ghar wapsi programme and also announced a helpline number for parents and families who suspect their children or people known to them are getting radicalised online.
Security forces have noticed that terror operatives are targeting youngsters between 15 and 25 years of age by inciting communal passions.
"The initiative aims at helping families in de-radicalising youngsters, who are often targeted by terror operatives who radicalise them online and use them in carrying out terror activities. We will lend support to such families as part of our de-radicalisation programme," an ATS official said.
Two control room numbers of ATS - 0522-2304588 and 9792103156 - have also been set up which people can contact for help and the families have been assured that the identities of such youths and their families will be kept a secret.
The IG ATS said police will take the help of not only clerics, parents, family members but also friends of such youths and make them understand religion in the right perspective.
The youth going for the de-radicalisation programme of ATS, will be engaged in an interaction with police to gain their confidence and the process will be last over one year.
Surprise visits have also been planned for such youths to check their activity and the ATS will also help in education and employment of the youth by recommending their names under various government schemes.
"As there is no guarantee that the youth may not be radicalised again, the ATS will keep their details with and keep checking their activities randomly," they said.
They said the focus of the programme is to target the terror mindset. "The programme aims to show the right path to the misguided youngsters through counselling," the UP ATS said.
"Presently ghar-wapsi or de-radicalisation of at least 25 youth from various districts of Uttar Pradesh is already on," IG ATS, Asim Arun said, adding these youths belong to seven districts including Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Bijnor and Muzaffarnagar.
"The ATS is keeping a tab on online activities and some families would be approached for the de-radicalisation process, if required," he said.
"Keeping in mind that they were being influenced by radical propaganda, efforts are being made with the help of their families for their de-radicalisation," a senior ATS official told PTI here.
The UP ATS had seized some important documents after the March 7 encounter in Lucknow in which a suspected terrorist belonging to an ISIS module was killed. Following this, the probe was expanded to five states.
The ATS had received information that the ISIS had been expanding its network in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Bihar and some youth from these states had joined the terror organisation.
Six others were detained for questioning and during interrogation, it was revealed that their role is negligible and in the absence of adequate proof they were not arrested, they said.
The arrested persons had tried to brain wash and subsequently push them on the path of terror. "Many a time, some families feel that one of their members has tread the wrong path and may subsequently opt for the terror route. But they feel helpless. Hence, the families are advised to approach the ATS Control Room at the earliest. The UP government and UP Police stand with them," an ATS statement said.
The programme includes involving misguided youngsters' friend and religious head during the counselling.
Afforts will also be made to keep the identity of the misguided youngster a secret and also the counselling process.
The programme will be considered to be over after the marriage of the misguided youngster or when his employment has been ensured. "These youngsters will never be used for gathering intelligence or trapping terrorists," the ATS said.
The UP ATS had on April 20 arrested four persons -- Mufti Faizan and Tanveer, who are connected with the ISIS and were arrested from Bijnor district.
Nazim Shamshad Ahmed (26), who hails from Bijnor, was nabbed from Thane district adjoining Mumbai and Muzammil from Punjab in a joint operation with others states.It has detained six youths, who were later handed over to their families to facilitate their "de-radicalisation".