India keen on fighting radicalisation alongside France

India keen to step up cooperation with France to take on radicalisation

He underlined the fact that the perpetrator of the recent terrorist attacks in France was from Pakistan

Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla. Credit: Twitter (@Indian_Embassy)

In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice, India has expressed its willingness to step up cooperation with France to take on the "infrastructure of radicalism", including its "online manifestation".

Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla, during his interaction with media, academia and think-tanks of France, underlined that it would be wrong to pretend that terror attacks like the recent ones in Paris and Nice were "lone-wolf initiatives" and committed by "misguided individuals". Such attacks had happened because an "infrastructure of radicalism" existed and it had its "online manifestations" too, he said.

Shringla was on a visit to Paris on Thursday and Friday.

He had a meeting with Alice Guitton, Director General for International Relations at the Ministry of Armed Forces of the French Government, on Thursday. He also met his counterpart Francois Delattre, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Government, on Friday. He delivered a lecture at the Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI) in Paris.

Shringla reached Paris on the day a terrorist beheaded a woman and killed two men at a church in Nice in southern France. Earlier, a Pakistani man had on September 25 stabbed two people in front of the former headquarters of satirical magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' in Paris. A teacher was also beheaded by a terrorist on October 16 after he showed his students some Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. The magazine itself had been targeted by terrorists for publishing the cartoons.

Shringla referred to the string of terror attacks and noted in his speech at the IFRI that both India and France faced similar non-traditional security threats in the form of radicalism and terrorism and increasingly cyber-security challenges. “In some respects, these are linked — not least because online radicalisation has emerged as a pressing concern,” he said, underlining that both India and France had suffered due to the menace.

"The fight today is not against specific communities or individuals but against a radical politico-religious ideology that attempts to negate the progress made by secular democracies, particularly when it involves the equality of all citizens, regardless of religion or ethnicity, and the rights of women," said the foreign secretary. "This radical ideology espouses violence and separatism, very often fanned and supported by foreign influence. Such forces seek to destabilise pluralist societies."

He underlined the fact that the perpetrator of the recent terrorist attacks in France was from Pakistan. "For the past three decades, we have experienced what unbridled radicalism can wreak — and what malevolent violent forces it can unleash. The civilised world needs to act together and act with firmness to address this threat to our cherished democratic value systems."

Shringla drove home the point during his interactions that the infrastructure of radicalism had the backing of states and organised institutions and the international community could not and should not "postpone a coordinated and definitive response".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Paris in August 2019, had agreed with French President Emmanuel Macron that the two sides should enhance operational cooperation to fight terrorism and "launch fresh efforts to prevent and fight radicalisation, especially online radicalisation".