London: The UK has banned Indian Mujahideen (IM), citing the "indiscriminate mass casualty attacks" carried out by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) linked terror group in India and the threat it posed to British nationals there.
British MPs voted unanimously on Wednesday night to ban IM, placing it on the list of 47 organisations that have been banned from functioning in the UK.
Setting out the reasons for proscribing IM under the Terrorism Act 2000, Home Office Minister James Brokenshire told the House of Commons that the decision was "not taken lightly" but after thoroughly reviewing all the available information and evidence about the India-based terror group.
"IM has been engaged in indiscriminate mass casualty attacks in India... They use violence to achieve their stated objectives of creating an Islamic state in India and implementing Sharia law," Mr Brokenshire said.
He added: "The organisation has frequently perpetrated attacks against civilian targets such as markets with the intention of maximising casualties...
"The organisation has also publicly threatened to attack British tourists, so they clearly pose a threat to British nationals in India."
The minister noted that IM was also banned in other countries, including the United States and New Zealand.
India had banned IM, which is linked to the Pakistan-based LeT, in June 2010 after it was suspected of involvement in the attack on a Pune bakery.
Mr Brokenshire recalled some incidents in which IM was involved, such as the serial blasts in Jaipur in May 2008 in which 63 people were killed, and the September 2011 explosion outside the High Court in New Delhi that claimed 15 lives.
"IM has sought to incite sectarian hatred in India by deliberately targeting Hindu places of worship such as an attack during a prayer ceremony in Varanasi which killed a child in December 2010," he said.
Supporting the motion to proscribe IM, shadow home office minister Diana Johnson noted that IM had "strong links" with the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), and asked why the government had not banned SIMI as well?
To questions about evidence of IM operating in the UK, Brokenshire said he could not respond due to security issues, but added that the Home Secretary decides to proscribe an organisation only after thoroughly reviewing all available information and evidence.
Senior Labour leader Keith Vaz said his constituency (Leicester East) had the highest number of Indian origin people in the country, and added that he was not aware of IM functioning in the United Kingdom.