The Islamic Research Foundation’s (IRF) guest relations manager, Arshi Qureshi, booked for radicalising young people who left India to join ISIS, had induced them to convert to Islam by promising them that they would get 72 virgin women in heaven, said National Investigation Agency (NIA) sources.
Qureshi was arrested for radicalising Nagpada-based businessman Abdul Khan. The case is being investigated by the NIA, which stated in its charge sheet that Qureshi would conduct meetings at IRF’s Dongri centre, where people were allegedly radicalised. The sessions in which people were converted to Islam were called ‘revert’ sessions.
The charge sheet adds that those who attended these sessions held by Qureshi subsequently joined the Islamic State (IS). The statements of witnesses reveal that the young people who converted to Islam at Qureshi’s behest had also asked several of their relatives to attend such sessions.
A witness who had attended training sessions at Dongri told the NIA that Qureshi would preach about converting to Islam and would call it the ‘best religion’.
“Qureshi told us that only Muslims go to Jannat (heaven). He said every Muslim get 72 hurs (virgins) in heaven. He told us no one ages beyond 30 to 32 years in heaven and they can enjoy the afterlife indefinitely,” reads the witness’ statement given to NIA on January 12.
“Qureshi used to tell all the ‘revertees’ that Hijrat (migration) is duty of every Muslim. He said that as the prophet had shifted from Mecca to Medina, we should also leave your homes.” The witness said Quereshi’s colleage added him to a tele-messaging group, which had 50 members.
A young man — the relative of a woman who converted from Christianity to Islam and left to join ISIS with many other young people from Kerala — said Qureshi persuaded him to convert too. The witness, whose identity has been kept a secret for security reasons, said Qureshi had introduced him to Islam and taught him follow the religion.
“I had started following Islam. But, I soon got frustrated with this forced transition and so I returned to my former religion. After I left, Qureshi kept calling me and asking me why I had abandoned Islam. He said he would clarify whatever doubts I had. He kept calling me for almost a month,” the witness said.
The charge sheet reveals that Qureshi came under the scanner at his workplace after he tried to impose his practices there. In a statement to the NIA, former public relations manager of the IRF and former operations manager of Harmony Media Pvt Ltd, Maqbool Barwelkar said Qureshi was warned not to argue with staff who did not want to adhere to his principles.