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In theoretical terms and in normal times, a ban on any political or social organisation is bard to justify. The Constitution upholds the right of association and expression. But the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is a different proposition. For one thing, it has very little to do with the students. For another, it is the very negation of Islam's principles. SIMI has been a subversive, militant outfit, preaching violence and organising anti-Indian protest rallies with a view to creating political unrest and social tension among a section of the Muslim community.

They are no longer functioning from behind the curtains. They are in the open and spearhead sabotage, triggering bomb blasts in trains (in August last year) and generally creating unrest among the lumpen masses of Muslims. Last year SIMI leaders openly challenged the Union government by saying that Kashmir is not an integral part of India and a jehad of the type being carried on in the state now alone will liberate the state.

But the most dangerous development in this connection has been the proven links of SIMI with Hizbul and other militant organisations. Most of those caught in the train blast case have confessed that they received training in jehadi techniques in camps across the border in the Pakistan-held part of Kashmir and their instructors have been officials of Pakistan's ISI.

That was the time to move decisively against this militant organisation. But somehow the government failed to act. This leniency on the part of the Union government has emboldened SIMI leaders to plan in conjunction with jehadi groups in Kashmir and spread their tentacles to at least seven states, the governments of which have reported the subversive activities of SIMI in those states and have pleaded that a ban on SIMI's activities has become imperative. The Union home ministry itself has been monitoring the activities of SIMI which in the last two weeks came out openly in support of Osama bin Laden and a jehad in Kashmir.

SIMI came into existence as the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami which severed all connections with SIMI when SIMI started straying away from legitimate activities and launched itself as a militant outfit, acting in accord with jehadis in Kashmir. Violence by supporters of SIMI is spreading, especially after the police firing in Lucknow on Thursday. A number of office-bearers of SIMI, including its chief, have been arrested and violent protest marches and other lawless activities are spreading across the country on incitement from SIMI supporters.

Scores of SIMI activists have been arrested in Maharashtra. Trouble is spreading to Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala. When India is in the alliance for fighting international terrorism, the government cannot overlook the activities of an organisation which has all the makings of a jehadi outfit. While the police is on high alert in Maharashtra, several towns and cities in UP will have a tough time in enforcing law and order.One hopes that the allegations against certain political parties inciting mobs to violence in UP are not true. Terrorism with latent but potent roots should not be allowed to grow clandestinely. That is what has happened in the case of SIMI.
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