Pakistan-based Dawat-e-Islami is exploiting digital technology in order to push its radical agenda into the homes of Indian Muslims, a special investigation by India Today has found. While the killers of tailor Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur, whose child had posted some content supporting BJP's suspended spokesperson Nupur Sharma on Mohammed's marriage with Aisha, are affiliated with Dawat-e-Islami, the outfit’s reach is not limited to a minuscule band of fanatics, the magazine has found.
In June, Pakistan had denied Rajasthan Police's finding that the assassins of tailor Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur had links with a Karachi-based Islamic organisation, Dawat-e-Islami. “We have seen reports in a segment of the Indian media referring to investigations into the murder case in Udaipur, mischievously seeking to link the accused individuals, Indian nationals, to an organisation in Pakistan. We categorically reject any such insinuations,” the Pakistani foreign affairs ministry said in an official statement on 29 June. But Islamabad’s defence flies in the face of the following facts.
The Pakistani outfit's website, www.dawateislami.net, offers several online religious programmes, with Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, the UK and the US figuring in the list of its countries of operations. While it does not mention India, when the magazine’s reporter applied for a Dawat-e-Islami course on 22 July as an Indian national under the pseudonym Rashid Ahmed, the organisation responded after a couple of hours by mail. The message advised the user of an Indian WhatsApp number to take the conversation forward: +91-9137589497.
That very night, a man called the reporter from the number above, saying he was Hasin Ahmed from the "Madhya Pradesh branch" of Dawat-e-Islami. “You filled in the application form?” he asked the journalist.
— Masha'Allah, we have received your application. Dear brother, we offer Madani Qaida and Nazra courses. Did you study Madani Qaida before? We offer a half-hour class daily on Skype. Its monthly fee is Rs 1,200.
— Are you based in Delhi?
— This branch of ours is based in Madhya Pradesh. Our class starts at 8 AM and runs till midnight every day. We’ll see if we can offer you the slot of your choice.
Thereafter, the Pakistani outfit’s digital propaganda surfaced. On Skype Dawat-e-Islami's mode is strictly audio, with no video streaming permitted. The 'teachers', apparently based in Barshi and Dahanu of Maharashtra, offered a half-hour session every day except Saturdays on Skype IDs “Teacher MTM 522 Faizan Online Academy,” “Teacher MTM 544 Faizan Online Academy,” “Shift Incharge Barshi Town,” and “Shift Incharge FOA Dahanu Mumbai.”
At the initial stage, their Skype content sounded purely religious. But soon, Dawat-e-Islami’s “Teacher MTM 522 Faizan Online Academy” ID started sending made-in-Pakistan material, including video and audio files.
The content produced in Pakistan glorified that country, exhorting the Dawat-e-Islami audience in India to contribute towards building Pakistan as a citadel of Islam.
The pre-recorded audio messages from Pakistan’s Dawat-e-Islami urged their audience in India to confront "infidels" even if that involved violence. “Our beloved nation Pakistan is a huge blessing for us. We should contribute to its building. We wish our country became the citadel of Islam in reality,” said a speaker in one audio file. “Those who died for Khuda aren’t dead. They are very much alive. You just aren’t aware. Those who have been killed for staying firm on the path of Khuda should not be assumed dead, leave alone be called dead. They are alive. People just don’t understand that.”
The Pakistani outfit sent Indian audiences via Skype "sacrifices" in the name of Islam. “Islam survives on sacrifices; it survives by sacrificing our lives for din (religion). Islam takes strength when Muslims strengthen their conscience. It’s in the interest of Islam if Muslims stay prepared for sacrifice in every situation,” said another audio message. “Muslims have become complacent. It’s sin everywhere. Non-Muslims have become dominant. If anyone sacrifices his life, it’s only for worldly reasons. The vision for the afterlife has diminished.”