Kin of woman who fled to join Islamic State seeks govt help for return
The mother of a 31-year-old Kerala woman, who had fled to Afghanistan in 2016 with her husband to join the so-called Islamic State (IS), has sought the government’s help for her return to India after she featured in a report by news website StratNewsGlobal’s saying she wanted to come back.
Nimisha alias Fathima was a part of a 21-member group that had joined the IS. She featured in the report based on the footage from the questioning of Nimisha and two other women, Sonia Sebastian alias Ayesha and Rafaela, by Indian intelligence agencies last year. Out of the 21, six men are believed to have been killed in Afghanistan.
The website reported nearly 14,000 IS fighters and their family members surrendered to the Afghan authorities between October and December 2019. The state police couldn’t confirm whether the three Kerala women were among those who surrendered, or captured.
Nimisha’s mother, Bindhu Sampath, asked the external affairs ministry to help the women return to India and face the law. “After four years, I saw my daughter’s photo for the first time. I plead to the Union government to help them return. Let them face the law of the land. I hope the government will take some steps at the earliest,” said Bindhu Sampath. She added she had been praying for her daughter for four years and was happy to see her grandchild sitting in her daughter’s lap.
Nimisha, a dentist, was seven-month pregnant when she left the country under the guise of going for pilgrimage in 2016.
In the report, the women are heard expressing their disappointment over their lives in Afghanistan and their keenness to return to India. Nimisha is heard saying she would love to visit her mother provided she is not arrested.
“This video came to our notice also. We don’t have any mechanism to cross-check it and it is for central agencies to speak about it,” a senior police officer, who did not want to be identified, said, adding the role of state police was limited in such cases.
The 21 people, including five converts to Islam, from upper-middle-class and well-to-do, educated families went missing from Kerala’s Kasargod in 2016. Later, intelligence agencies traced them to Afghanistan. Nimisha and Sebastian had converted to Islam from Hinduism and Christianity while they were in college. Nimisha later married Esa, a Muslim convert from Christianity, and Sebastian Abdul Rashid, who was believed to be the 21-member module’s leader.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in November announced that they had “obliterated” the IS from the country. The statement came a week after over 600 IS fighters surrendered with their families to the Afghan government. Reuters in November cited officials and said air strikes by Afghan and coalition forces, lack of funds and low morale forced the IS to give up.