After four young men from Kalyan left home, allegedly to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, parents in the area are on edge – especially because extremist groups are increasingly using social media as a propaganda tool to lure youngsters from across the country.
Parents now are demanding for curbs on content floating on the web, to prevent the radicalisation of their children.
“Youngsters get easily influenced and inspired by reading unverified news on social media. It gets worse because children in their 20s are in no mood to listen to their parents or think about how their actions will affect society,” said Irfan Kinikar, a Kalyan resident, worried about shielding his college-going son from such influences.
“The spread of such propaganda means we have to keep a better tab on our kids,” Kinikar said.
“How do educated men get influenced or radicalised?” asked Irshad Shaikh, a businessman in his late twenties. “With social media increasingly becoming a platform for extremist groups to influence and radicalise people, we must get more aware. The police should block sites with such material.”
Many people who have lived in Kalyan for years, said they were shaken after finding out that ISIS could have reached boys living near them. “We never thought such groups could reach Kalyan and radicalise the four boys. This has made parents worry about their children even more, because different apps have made social media quite invasive,” said Tarik Kapadia, a businessman.
The four young men, Arif Ijaz Majeed, Shaheen Tanki, Fahad Sheikh and Aman Naeem Tandel went missing on May 24. On August 26, Majeed’s family was told he had been killed in an air strike in Iraq and a webpage was allegedly created by ISIS, calling him a martyr.
Hyderabad group stopped at Kolkata, on their way to join ISIS
On Friday, intelligence agencies in Kolkata stopped four young men from Hyderabad from crossing over to Bangladesh, reportedly to join ISIS. During interrogation, the youngsters revealed 11 more were in touch with ISIS handlers. They said they were inspired by content on social media – pages on Facebook about ISIS and messages from a handler.