In Uttar Pradesh, there are 15,000 soldiers ready to fight the Islamic State. The Hindu Swabhiman, which believes IS will occupy UP by 2020, has been training a “dharma sena”, from the outskirts of Delhi till the Uttarakhand border, to go up against the terror outfit. It has at least 50 known training camps across western UP – some secret and others openly training people to be prepared “for when the enemy strikes”.

The Times of India reported that the group had also enlisted child soldiers and has been teaching them to use swords and firearms. A leader of the Hindu Swabhiman, Chetna Sharma, said their motto was to “catch them young”. An 8-year-old girl said, “I am learning to fight because our mothers and elder sisters are threatened. I have to protect them as well as myself.”

However, Inspector General of Meerut Zone Alok Sharma is unaware of the operation undertaken by the Hindu Swabhiman. “We do not have any report on such activity taking place. I will certainly look into the matter,” he said. Three known training camps of the group are said to be located in Meerut.

The outfit’s work is fuelled by the ideology of Swami Narsinghanand Saraswati, a former Samajwadi Party member who is now a Hindu ascetic. He stays at the temple in Ghaziabad district’s Dasna, which serves as the group’s headquarters. Saraswati believes the Darul Uloom Islamic school in Deoband was where the Islamic State’s ideologies originated. “The only answer to the ISIS is a HS – a Hindu State,” he said, adding that he was preparing people for a civil war that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot stop.