Kerala police on Tuesday started a special drive to collect information about all missing persons following the arrest of a man from the state, who went missing from north Kerala’s Wayanad, in connection with the terror attack on Pathankot airbase.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the attack, had arrested Dineshan alias Riyaz Rasheed a couple of days ago after it found that he had made calls to Pakistan. The agency had pinned him down after verifying the call list.
Dineshan failed to give a reasonable answer as to why he had settled in a remote village called Musafar near Pathankot. He told investigators that he called one of his old colleagues from Saudi Arabia now settled in Pakistan.
“An NIA team had visited the district two days ago and questioned some of his relatives,” Wayanad superintendent of police MK Pushkaran said.
Dineshan’s relatives told the NIA that he had left home 16 years ago and was incommunicado all these years. The state police had booked him in 2000 after he was involved in a hooch smuggling case. He jumped bail, slipped to Saudi Arabia and later converted to Islam and changed his named, police said.
The arrest of Dineshan has forced Kerala police to start looking at the list of the missing persons in detail.
“All police stations have been told to examine cases relating to missing persons and do a proper follow up. If needed, we will rope in NRI organisations to locate them,” a senior police officer said.
More than 150 people are reportedly missing from Malabar in north Kerala in the last decade or so. Fearing harassment, families do not approach the police.
“Youngsters, who go abroad in search of jobs, are sitting ducks. We are helpless on such occasions. Relatives and social organisations there will have to keep a tab on them,” a senior police officer in Malappuram, who did not want to be named, said.
Kerala is not new to radicalisation. Though the banned Student Islamic Movement of India was founded in Uttar Pradesh, its activities were controlled by leaders from Kerala. It had conducted two secret camps in Wagamon and Binanipuram that finally led to the formation of Indian Mujahideen which later triggered a series of blasts in the country.
Though the state has never witnessed a major terror attack, there are definite indications that it has been a perfect recruiting base for subversive elements.
In 2008, four youths from the state were shot dead by security forces in an encounter along the Jammu and Kashmir border. Last year, the UAE had deported four youths from the state after it found that they were in touch with ISIS elements.