No news on Kerala IS recruits’ mass death in Afghanistan: Families

Amid reports of 14 recruits were killed in an attack in Afghanistan, relatives say they so far know only about the death of five people from Kasargode district and another from Kozhikkode.

india Updated: Aug 25, 2017 18:23 IST
Rajesh Ahuja and Ramesh Babu
Rajesh Ahuja and Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram
Islamic State,Kerala IS recruits,Afghanistan
An Islamic State flag is seen in this picture illustration taken February 18, 2016. A section of Kerala media reported quoting intelligence sources that 14 of the 21 people were killed in Syrian and US forces’ attack in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.(Reuters File)

Families of the some of the people missing from Kerala, who allegedly joined Islamic State in Afghanistan, said on Friday they are yet to get any confirmation 14 recruits were killed in an attack in the war-torn country.

A section of the media in Kerala reported quoting intelligence sources that 14 of the 21 people were killed in Syrian and US forces’ attack in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. But these sources did not confirm whether the six people killed in a US drone attack earlier also figured in the latest list.

So far, relatives know only about the death of five people from Kasargode district and another from Kozhikkode.

“We read about it in the media only. We have no idea about it. Usually, we alert the media whenever relatives get some information but this time it didn’t happen. We are totally in the dark,” said BC Rehman, a prominent Muslim League leader from Kasargode, who got messages on Telegram app from the missing people.

Read more: Indian IS recruit dies in Afghanistan, unclear if ‘mother of all bombs’ killed him

Telegram is an internet-based communication app like WhatsApp and is a preferred mode of communication of the Islamic State. Messages sent on Telegram self-destruct after 24 hours.

The media report also claimed 70-odd Indian women and children were trapped in Syria and Afghanistan. At least three of the missing men took their wives and children when they slipped out of the country.

However, sources with the National Investigation Agency said they have not got any information either about the mass deaths or trapped Indians.

Last year, 21 people from the southern state went missing sending shockwaves across the country. Most of them were well-educated and came from respectable upper-middle class families. Among them two men and three women are converts.

Intelligence agencies later traced them to Nanghar province of Afghanistan, and reports suggested that they must have crossed into the war-torn country through Iran.

Kerala police arrested two men from Mumbai, Arshid Qureshi and Rizwan Khan, who allegedly played a key role in recruiting them to the IS and later dispatching them abroad.

Qureshi, an associate of controversial preacher Zakir Naik, was held in connection with the disappearance of Merin alias Mariyam, a resident of Kochi. Merin’s brother filed a police complaint saying Qureshi tried to convert him also during a meeting in Mumbai last year.

Most of the relatives of the missing people have disowned them for bringing disrepute to the state and community. Initially, some of them sent messages through Telegram asking them to come back but now say they have lost all hopes for their return.

First Published: Aug 25, 2017 13:25 IST