Sri Lanka deports 600 clerics, including 100 Indians

New Delhi, May 14, 2019: Around 100 Indians were among 600 foreigners Sri Lanka deported in the first week of May.

They included 200 Muslim religious preachers from India, Pakistan and Maldives who were suspected to be engaged in radicalization in the Sri Lankan mosques.

The preachers allegedly maintained terror links that emerged after serial suicide bombings in Colombo on Sunday Easter that took killed 258 people and wounded more than 500.

The deported also included 400 who traveled on tourist visas but engaged in radical preaching, sources said.

Sri Lankan authorities have identified about 1,200 such individuals who are being screened for terror links and depending upon antecedent verification more such clerics are likely to be deported to the respective countries.

The revelation of the Indian Muslim preachers in radicalization activities in the island nation has set alerted security establishment in New Delhi as they suspect international terror groups might have developed a hub of such transnational radical preachers in the country.

The deportations began on May 7 after the Sri Lankan authorities informed the respective foreign missions on the issue. By May 9, 600 such radicals were deported to the respective countries.

Pakistani clerics work in mosques in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Maldives and in some ASEAN countries.

Sources say radical clerics are part of the transnational radicalization networks of the international terror groups like the Al Qaeda and ISIS who have a long term agenda of radicalisation and subsequently recruit them into their fold for their terror designs, including logistics management chain and funding through illegal narcotics supply chain.

During the last over two years, Indian clerics in large number, as revealed by the Sri Lankan deportation, are also taking up jobs of Islamic preaching in foreign shores.

In the wake of the development, the challenge for the security agencies is two-fold: first, to keep tabs on their activities after their deportation, and secondly to establish their role and extent of involvement in radicalization during their stay in Sri Lanka, insiders said.

Officials also said the Indian security agencies will have an onerous task ahead to contain the impact of the deported radical clerics.

They said counter-terrorism and security-related issues come under the domain of the security agencies in so far as Sri Lanka is concerned as any adverse activity there has a direct bearing on the security calculus in South India, especially Tamil Nadu.

Ahead of carrying out the suicide bombing in Colombo, chief National Thowheed Jamat Zaharan Hashim had stayed in South India for three months but remained undetected by the Intelligence Bureau.

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