New Delhi : (IANS) Sumaya Rafiq Zargar, 23, grew up in Srinagar under the shadow of militancy but does not want her next generation to live in fear. She is in a batch of 18 students who have enrolled for the country's first degree course in countering terrorism.
An initiative of Pune-based NGO Sarhad that works in insurgency-battered Jammu and Kashmir, the two-year post- graduate course called Counter Terrorism and Peace Management starts Oct 2 - the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi - at the Sarhad Research Centre in Pune.
Sarhad runs a chain of colleges, including technical institutions. This course will be run by Sarhad Research Centre for Counter-terrorism and Peace Management. They have applied for recognition of the course by the University Grants Commission.
"I have seen terrorism from close quarters. My uncle died after being tortured by terrorists. Several nights, nobody in the family could sleep due to the fear of being killed. I don't want my next generation to grow up under the same fear and pain," Sumaya, a media professional, told IANS.
She says the only reason for her joining the course is to understand the causes, ideologies, modus operandi and, ultimately, the ways to resolve the problem of terrorism.
The brainchild of Sanjay Nahar, the founder of Sarhad, the course was designed after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
"India has been a victim of terrorism for so many decades. And especially after the Mumbai terror attacks, it has become very important that we study terrorism and educate people about counter-terrorism strategy," Nahar told IANS.
Of the 18 students -- four girls and 14 boys -- many are masters in business administration (MBA), hotel management graduates and media professionals. The course fees are Rs.30,000 a year.
"The course will be conducted in the weekends and students will be taken to terror-affected sites as part of their practical training. We have roped in various top senior policemen and army personnel, who have successfully thwarted terrorist attacks, lawyers, journalists and also some surrendered militants, who will explain how they became terrorists," Nahar said.
The center has received a good response from people abroad also. However, due to some legal technicalities none of them is enrolled in this batch. The centre is planning to accommodate them in the next batch.
Nahar said they had contacted some 10 five-star hotels and 200 companies for campus recruitment and a majority of them have shown interest.
Some companies have approached us to train all their employees in counter-terrorism and peace management, he said.
The first year of the course will include the etymology and philosophy of terrorism, terrorist ideologies and modus operandi, national policy and role of the print and electronic media.
The second year will focus on different terrorist groups, socio-economic factors that mould a terrorist's mindset, control strategy, retention camps, drugs and arms trafficking.
The course has been designed by experts from various fields -- legal, administrative, police, academic and security -- under the guidance of Aligarh Muslim University's former vice-chancellor Mahmud-ur-Rahman.
Rahman, a retired officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), had served in various administrative posts in Jammu and Kashmir from 1966 to 1995.
"The students will be equipped to work at the ground level in areas affected by terrorism and play a vital role in restoring peace and harmony. Also, with their understanding they will be equipped to help societies and businesses come up with strategies and ideas to combat terrorism," said Rahman.
There will be visiting faculty from other terror-affected Asian countries -- Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iraq.
On the advantage of the course, Rahman said: "There is no counter-terrorism training or knowledge offered to common people though they become the major victims in any terror attack. The course is about managing peace in the country."