A missing Muslim youth from Kerala messaged his relatives on Sunday, informing them that he has reached his destination and they shouldn’t bother looking for him.
The audio message gave further wind to swirling speculation about 20-odd young people from two Kerala districts joining the Islamic State (IS) terrorist outfit in West Asia after their puzzling disappearance in the past few months.
“We reached our destination. There is no point in complaining to police as this will create more problems for you. We have no plans to return from the abode of Allah,” said the online message sent by Ijas Muhammad, a physician and native of Kasargode in northern Kerala.
An intelligence official said the online communication originated from West Asia.
Muhammad, who has a medical degree from China, was working with a clinic at Vadakara in Kozhikode district. He was on leave for the past two months, colleagues said.
His message came on a day the Kerala government admitted for the first time about the missing people.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed the state assembly that the whereabouts of 17 people from Kasargode and four from Palakkad could not be ascertained. “The missing from Kasargode included four women and three children. And two women were among the missing from Palakkad,” he said.
According to reports, at least eight of these people slipped out of the country through Bengaluru and Mangaluru airports in neighbouring Karnataka.
Among them were two women in advanced stages of pregnancy, a police officer said. “CCTV footage from the airport is being scanned. A man named Firoze, who is close to one of the missing people, was detained at Mumbai airport on Sunday night for questioning.”
Chief minister Vijayan scotched reports linking people’s disappearances with terrorism. “Terror has no religion. It is not fair to blame a community,” he said.
Most of these people are highly educated and from affluent families.
Police suspect the role of Salafi groups in radicalising these people. “Most of them are inspired by Wahabism. The IS too is driven by the same principles,” said a Muslim reformist in Kozhikode who did not want to be named.