Individuals and institutions in Saudi Arabia are pumping in millions of rupees into India to open religious trusts and non-governmental organisations, reveal the diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks last week. Officials with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have termed this as “an attempt to help spread and propagate Wahhabism in the country”. This is a creed, which has extreme views on women and minority rights, besides other restrictive aspects that are opposed to the liberal spirit and democratic advances of the 21st century.
An undated document, which according to WikiLeaks, originated from the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in New Delhi, contains the list of Indian institutions and societies that have applied for financial assistance. The document suggests that the government of Saudi Arabia itself pledged donations to nine such institutions located across different states, including Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala and Maharashtra.
Saudi Arabia pledged 2.5 million Saudi Riyal (SR) to Islamic Mission Trust, “Malpurram” (Mallapuram) in Kerala, which is registered with the MHA, ostensibly for constructing an arts and science college building.
Similarly, it also pledged 1 million SR to the Kerala branch of Islamic Welfare Trust for constructing a nursing college. A similar amount was also pledged to the Palghat Mujahideen Arabic College Committee in Kerala for the purpose of extending an existing medical college and the Karuma hospital building.
In Uttar Pradesh, 75,000 SR were pledged to two different societies for establishing a madrasa building and establishing a vocational centre for girls in Mirzapur and Siddharth Nagar, respectively.
WikiLeaks also released documents that showed that the Secretariat General of the Muslim World League (Mecca), a controversial organisation, had requested Saudi Arabia to encourage establishing Wahhabi centres in India.
Sources in the MHA feel that the Saudi government is concerned about the growing influence of the Shia community in India and Iran’s increasing closeness to India and sees this phenomenon as a threat to the majority Sunni population in the country, something that has been mentioned in their diplomatic correspondence which has been released by WikiLeaks. According to officials, India’s Shia population is the world’s second-largest after Iran.
“To counter the increasing Shia influence, a certain section in the Saudi establishment has been propagating Wahhabism in India,” says an MHA official.
In the last three-four years there has been a steady increase in Wahhabi preachers coming to India to conduct seminars. The official warned that “There is no doubt that Wahhabism is getting stronger in the country, especially in Kerala, mainly because of the radicalisation of a large number of local youth who are going to Saudi Arabia in search of employment. Kerala has been showing signs of sharp radicalisation. This was the only state where posters mourning the death of Osama Bin Laden had come up and a prayer for Ajmal Kasab was also held after he was hanged.”
Donations from Saudi sources are playing a key role in this process, which is being repeated across other parts of the country as well.
-Abhinandan Mishra ( The Sunday Guardian)