THE NORTH MALABAR region of Kerala has increasingly come under the radar for all the wrong reasons. Besides being the hot bed of violent political clashes between the ruling Marxists and the cadres of the RSS and the BJP, it has also earned a bad name for itself over the rising influence of radicalised Islamist outfits such as the Popular Front of India (PFI) and Jamaat-e-Islami. This week saw the arrests in Kannur district of five men with suspected links to the Islamic State, indicating that things are perhaps getting out of hand as regards measures to safeguard national integrity and to stem disillusioned Muslim youth from going astray.
At least three of the arrested were suspected to have visited Syria and reportedly received training from the terror outfit. “Three persons, Mithilaj, Abdul Razzak and Rashid, in the age group between 25 and 30, were arrested for their links with the IS,” PP Sadanandan, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kannur, said. The arrested are former members of PFI, Sadanandan told Open over the phone. He added that at least 45 people, including families, from the North Malabar region still live in areas once held by ISIS in the Middle East. “They have been arrested based on evidence obtained after examining their phone calls. Further interrogation is on,” he said. The three had returned from Turkey recently, the police said.
The National Investigation Agency has been probing cases of disappearance of at least 21 people who had left the state under mysterious circumstances and are suspected to have joined the ISIS. Among them, 17 were from Kasaragod and four from Palakkad, including four women and three children.
The state government as well as the Centre are deeply concerned about the rising influence of Salafists and organisations such as the PFI which have been reportedly radicalising educated Muslim youth, especially from affluent families. “We are worried about how these organisations and online recruiters brainwash children from well-to-do families against the country and incite them to hate all non-Muslims. In the current political atmosphere where fissures over faiths are deeper than usual, they end up being easy targets and cannon fodder,” a police officer said, emphasising that the police are keeping a close watch of outfits with suspected links with ISIS. They had better step up such efforts.