Dawat-e-Islami (DeI), a Pakistan based Sunni Barelvi proselytising group is recently in news after the connection between the persons involved in Udaipur murder and DeI came to the forefront. For those who do not know, the accused in Udaipur case use the title ‘Attari’ in their names after the name of DeI’s founder Ilyas Attar Qadri. The ferocity with which the cold blooded murder was carried out raises several questions on the source of inspiration of the killers. DeI was founded by Muhammad Ilyas Attar Qadri in Pakistan in 1981 as an attempt at strengthening Barelvism in face of rising prominence of Deobandi groups in Pakistan. DeI remained a low profile organisation till the murder of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab, Pakistan by his bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri on charges of blasphemy. Mumtaz Qadri’s association with DeI came to the fore when Tahreek-e-Labbaik (TLP, front of DeI) organised protests/rallies to free Qadri. After the execution of Qadri, TLP grew exponentially with cry of injustice. TLP’s radical instance ensured that Barelvism became synonymous with violence and the Sufi component gets diluted in thin air. Although, Indian chapter of DeI broke away in 1992 and started a separate organisation named Sunni Dawat-e-Islami, in Mumbai under Mohammad Shakir Ali Nuri, an official condemnation of Udaipur killings is yet to come from Nuri’s organisation.
Udaipur’s murder has shown that ideologically motivated and misguided individuals can go to any extent to satisfy their ego. This focuses the spotlight on another organisation named Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) that works in similar fashion like DeI. Like DeI, TJ sends followers on missionary work and holds ijtima or congregation at different places. Similar to DeI, TJ also focuses on Tableegh or spiritual reformation. Just as the radical instance of DeI was exposed after Salman Taseer’s murder, TJ’s radical instance was highlighted after the connection of TJ’s members with radicalisation was exposed in post 9/11 attacks related investigation. Linkages of TJ with Laskar e Jhangvi is also known to all. However, in terms of capacity and reach, TJ surpasses DeI due to its transnational reach and huge number of flowers across the nations. DeI didn’t participate in Afghan-Soviet war as TJ’s affiliated members did. TJ’s affiliated groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba and Taliban are also known to be involved in violent activities in Pakistan and in Kashmir.
Pakistan Sunni Tehreek (another wing of DeI) graduated from ‘Jawaniyan Lutayenge Masjiden Bachayenge’ to ‘Tauheen rasalat ki ek hi saza, sar tan se juda, sar tan se juda’. The growing threat of DeI was ignored by Pakistan even after Salman Taseer’s murder and now, the organisation has grown to such an extent that its leaders were able to seize Islamabad after a ban was promulgated on it and subsequently, forced the Pakistani government to withdraw the ban. India shouldn’t make the same mistake. Udaipur incident has shown us that sympathisers of DeI in India must be identified and necessary actions be taken to prevent further radicalisation of youth. At the same time, a watchful eye must be kept on ideologically motivated organisations like TJ, Tahaffuz e Namoos e Rislat etc. so that any instance of radicalisation may be nipped in the bud.