New Delhi: India has declared a ban on Islamic State, days after having detained an engineer for running a popular Twitter account extolling the militant group's military campaign.
Until now, India had held off on a ban on Islamic State, because of the group's lack of activity in the country; sources say the government was also worried over the fate of 39 construction workers missing in Iraq this year, who are believed to be held by the group.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament today, "We had taken cognizance of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria activities in other countries... as a first step, we have banned this outfit in India."
On Saturday, police picked up Mehdi Masoor Biswas, a 24-year-old food company executive from Bengaluru, saying he was running the pro-Islamic State Twitter handle @ShamiWitness that had 17,800 followers, including hundreds of foreign fighters for the group.
Police were poring over 129,000 tweets he had posted over several years to determine if he was simply a cheerleader for the group or an online recruiter, an officer said.
"It is true the number of Indians in the group or involved in its activities is only a handful," the Home Minister said, "but I want to make clear we are taking this seriously."
A ban on the group makes it easier for police to prosecute suspects, an aide said.