ATS probes 800 conversions linked to Kerala man arrested on radicalisation charges

Officials say they are trying to find if there are cases of forced conversions & subsequent radicalistaion of youths to join IS

Written by Rashmi Rajput | Mumbai | Updated: July 26, 2016 12:31 pm
zakir, zakir naik, isis, isis india, islamic state, india islamic state, india islamic state arrest, india news, indian express Police personnel guarding outside Islamic Research Foundation in Mumbai. (File/PTI)

Days after the Kerala Police started a crackdown against those suspected to have been involved in the alleged radicalisation of the 21 missing Kerala youths who have allegedly joined the globally banned terrorist outfit the Islamic State (IS), the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has started analysing the paperwork related to the 800 conversions carried out by one of the accused, Rizwan Khan.

Sources claim that such an exercise was under way to find out if there were similar cases in this state too and also those related to ‘love-jihad’.

Khan, who was arrested Friday night, is alleged to have posed as the guardian and signed on the ‘nikahnama’ of Merin alias Mariyam, a Christian woman who converted to Islam and left to join the IS along with husband Yahiya. Her wedding ceremony took place last year.

Sources claim that Khan, who is associated with an ‘Islamic guidance centre’ run by controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik in South Mumbai, has carried out over 800 conversions of Hindus and Christians to Islam and in most cases has also facilitated their weddings. Khan used to run a marriage bureau near his Bazarpeth residence in Kalyan on the outskirts of Mumbai.

“Most conversions are related to locals from Mumbai and its satellite towns. We are studying these papers. While conversion is not a crime in our country, it has to be done with the consent of the individual. We are studying if there are any cases of forced conversions and subsequent radicalistaion of these youth that led them to join IS,” a senior official from the state counter terrorism agency told The Indian Express. “While the probe is in its nascent stage, it will require us to vet a lot of documents and trace those who have been converted and see if there is any such cases,” said the official.

Interestingly, other than the cases of radicalistaion of converted youth, the state agency is also going to study if there are any cases of ‘love-jihad’ wherein young Muslim boys and men are said to reportedly target young girls belonging to non-Muslim communities to convert them to Islam in the name of love. Most such cases have been reported in western and northern Maharashtra.

“In the last couple of years, we have also seen many cases of love-jihad reported across Maharashtra where young Muslim boys for the want of money are made to fake love to non-Muslim girls and women, marry and subsequently abandon them after the couple have had a child. While studying the documents, we will also see if there are any such cases and take action accordingly,” said the official.

Arish Qureshi Arish Qureshi

Other than Khan, the Kerala Police have also arrested Arish Qureshi, a guest manager with Dr Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). Qureshi was arrested last week from his Navi Mumbai residence.

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Quershi and Khan have been charged under certain sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code for inciting communal hatred.

Sources claim that the Mariyam, a BPO employee who had moved to Navi Mumbai last year, married Yahiya in Mumbai after which she was radicalised by the two men who brainwashed her to undertake the travel to join IS.

The missing complaint was converted into a case under the stringent provisions of UAPA after Ebin Jacob, Mariyam’s brother, alleged that Qureshi tried to radicalise him too but he did not fall prey to it. Jacob has also claimed that Yahiya and Quesrhi took him to Mumbai to meet Naik.

While the IRF has confirmed that Quershi is a member and worked with them in the capacity of a guest manager, they claim that Khan is not associated with the charitable trust either directly or indirectly.

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