15 Kerala youths go missing, families suspect IS links

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At least 15 youths from Kerala''s Kasaragod and Palakkad districts who had travelled to the Middle East have gone missing in the past month, sparking fears that they may have joined the Islamic State

15 Kerala youths go missing, families suspect IS links

A video grab of an ISIS camp at an undisclosed location. File photo

Thiruvananthapuram, July 9

At least 15 youths from Kerala's Kasaragod and Palakkad districts who had travelled to the Middle East have gone missing in the past month, sparking fears that they may have joined the Islamic State.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has directed the police to investigate the cases on priority, Kasaragod Parliamentarian P Karunakaran said.

"This is a very serious issue. This has to be examined," the Chief Minister told reporters in Kochi.

The youngsters’ families, who have not heard from them for the past month, fear they have been radicalised after some of their messages indicated they might have gone to join the self-styled ‘Caliphate’.

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Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan said in Kasaragode:  "If they are trapped in their (IS) net and reached in (their territory), it would be a very difficult issue. A detailed probe will be conducted on this issue," he told reporters.

Kasaragod District Panchayat member VPP Mustafa said that during Eid, the parents of two missing youths received 'Whatsapp' messages that said: "We are not coming back. Here there is Divine Rule. You also should join us".

"We have joined IS to fight US for attacking Muslims,” read another message, Mustafy claimed, although he added that they had yet to check the authenticity of the texts.

However, Police Chief Loknath Behra remained cautious, saying only that the cases were being investigated.

"First we have to verify things and it's being done. Do not ask questions at this stage.”

Karunakaran, Thrikarippur MLA M Rajagopalan and Mustafa informed Chief Minister Vijayan after the families reported their fears.

"The Chief Minister has asked police to launch a probe into the matter urgently," Karunakaran said on Saturday.

Hakim, the father of Hafesuddin, one of those missing, told television channels he had not heard from his son since the latter left a month ago.

"If he returns as a good man, I will welcome him. If not, I do not want to see even his dead body," he said.

Eleven of those missing belong to Padna and Thrikaripur in the northernmost Kasaragod district of Kerala, while the others are from Palakkad.

Mustafa said among those missing was a couple, Dr Ijas and his dentist wife, who had left home saying were going to Lakshadweep.

Another youngster, Abdul Rasheed, an engineering graduate, left home with his wife and a two-year old daughter claiming that they were going to Mumbai for a job.

Bindu, mother of a young pregnant woman who converted to Islam after she married, said her daughter was among the missing people. Her daughter Nimisha was a final year Dental student in Kasaragod when she met and got married to a Christian youth, who also converted.

Bindu, who is from Thiruvananthapuram, told TV channels, that she had received a call from her daughter on May 18 that that she was going to Sri Lanka on a business tour with her husband.

She later received a text on Whatsapp that said that she was all right on June 4, but has not heard from her since.

Nimisha’s due in August, she said. She read in news reports that Nimisha was one of those missing. 

All those missing had middle class backgrounds, were aged under 30, were all highly qualified and showed keen interest in religious matters since the past two years, Mustafa claimed. — PTI 

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