A controversial group in western India called Hindu Swabhiman Sangh is training children from age nine to adulthood to fight ISIS. The majority of the local population call them radicalized and accuse them of trying to push out the existing Muslim population from India. Those in the group have been called vigilantes and have been marginalized for their hard stance on local Muslims killing cows during the Muslim holidays. Listening to the priest talk in the video, it becomes obvious that he is very critical of Islam and the damage it has already done to India. He wants to prepare his followers to defend themselves in a religious war.
The group’s leadership feel that when ISIS does start to attack India (they estimate it will happen by 2020), there will be a large civil war throughout India. Ultimately, they state their goal for training children to fight is to get the children in the right mindset and physically prepare them for the battle to come. Their main method of recruiting for their cause is through Facebook and other social media.
ISIS’s most common weaponry, such as IEDs and AK-47s, seems to outmatch the group’s minimalist teachings. In the video, they are teaching what appears to be a martial arts/wrestling/archery/after-school boys and girls club rather than a formidable opponent to ISIS. They do claim to engage in some firearms training, but in the video, they only showed a single loaded revolver. There seems to be more to the story, but it wasn’t captured in the video.
Should more groups in India prepare their children to fight ISIS? Will teaching their children to prepare to fight at such an early age rob them of a childhood, much like other child soldiers? Obviously, a big difference between this group and most child soldiers fighting for ISIS or al-Shabaab is that the latter actually commit violence, while this group’s children appear to be only sparring with each other.
Video and image courtesy of the Quint