Iraq elections
Men scramble to get election pamphlets from the United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of various Shia political and religious parties, at Buratha Mosque in Baghdad, in the run-up to national elections - File photo.hris Hondros / Getty Images

Some 30,000 Indian Shia Muslims have submitted their passports and are ready to travel to Iraq to defend Shiite holy shrines from the advancing Sunni Islamist insurgents by any means available.

According to recruiters a further 100,000 have pledged support for the cause and are also willing to travel and defend their faith.

Shia Muslim organisations said many of the volunteers are well-educated, have filled out forms and are "ready to go any moment".

Syed Bilal Hussain Abidi, a senior Shia cleric said: "The volunteers are educated young men from different backgrounds. We do not plan to train them in arms. We will go there to fight them bare handed."

India is home to around 175 million people of Islamic faith. Although the majority of the country's Islamic population are Sunni, Shia Muslims are estimated to make up between 40 million and 50 million.

Apparently the aim is to build a volunteer corps of a million people who will "form a human chain around the holy shrines of Karbala and Najaf".

"We are looking at a million volunteers to form a human chain around the holy shrines of Karbala and Najaf, in case the Isis attacks. We will do everything to stop the advance of the enemies."
- Syed Bilal Hussain Abidi, leader of Anjuman E Haideri

One of the organisations that recruits the "fighters" has said it plans to march to the Iraqi embassy in New Delhi to submit the visa applications.

"We could travel to Iraq to form a human chain to save people from being tortured. We could fetch water and donate blood and do anything to save our shrines," Abidi of Anjuman E Haideri, told Reuters.

Anjuman E Haideri, whose headquarters is located off Karbala Road in New Delhi, is only one of such organisations that recruit people in an unprecedented campaign to save the faith.

Earlier, the All India Shia Husaini Fund (AISHF) had said around 4,000 people volunteered to travel to Iraq and fight against the Isis militants.

However, the government of India has said it would not allow Indians to travel to Iraq because of security issues, and it's not clear how the Iraqi embassy in India will deal with the visa applications.

Moreover, the recruiters do not seem to have a clear idea about what the faith-driven fighters will do in Iraq.

AISHF Secretary General, Syed Hasan Mehdi, told IBTimes UK the "fighters" are amateurs and have been given no combat training. He said the volunteers would primarily be involved in aiding the efforts to rescue abducted Indians in Iraq and protect the holy Shiite shrines.

When pressed further whether the group was putting the lives of thousands in danger, Mehdi replied "Allah is with us."

Among those who signed up are engineers, police officers and students. They application form that they signed states: "I firmly believe that terrorism of all kinds including the one which is being inflicted by known terror groups in Iraq is not only a serious threat to innocent Iraqis (irrespective of their religious beliefs) but is also a threat to the entire humanity."

Syed Bahadur Abbas Naqvi, the general secretary Anjuman E Haideri, said they had to step in and send fighters to Iraq as the government of India did not have plans to send forces to Iraq.

"We have nearly 30,000 volunteers who have filled in the forms and given their passports and are ready to go any moment. Another hundred thousand have got in touch with us and have pledged their support. We are looking at a million volunteers to form a human chain around the holy shrines of Karbala and Najaf, in case the Isis attacks. We will do everything to stop the advance of the enemies," added Abidi, according to news portal Iraqi News.