MANY of the people from Kerala accused of terror links in the recent past have been new converts to Islam, including five of the 21 currently missing who are feared to have joined the Islamic State (IS).
In 2008, when four youths from Kerala were killed in an encounter in Kashmir while allegedly trying to cross over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for training, one of them was Muhammed Yasin, a Christian who had recently converted to Islam.
The police and NIA said their probe showed that Yasin, earlier Joseph Varghese, was handpicked by suspected
Lashkar-e-Toiba militant Tadiyantavide Nazir, who is now serving life term after being convicted in the terror recruitment case.
Nazir was alleged to have at least two more converts in his network. Hindu youths Baburaj and Abhilash, who took on the names Muhammed Sahal and Vahabudeen respectively.
Sahal gave a statement to police that Nazir and his gang had played a crucial role in converting him to Islam. “When Nazir met me first in Kochi, he asked me to get converted to Islam. I learnt about Islam from the Internet,” Sahal said in his statement.
Vahabudeen, a native of Kalamassery near Kochi, claimed Nazir had imparted religious lessons to him as a new convert. And that he had tried to arrange a woman from Kannur to marry him.
Later, when Nazir was lodged in Ernakulam sub-jail, police alleged that another convert, Deepa Cherian alias
Shahina, provided him logistical support.
Of the 21 from Kerala missing now, one is Merin, who took on the name Mirriam after conversion. Her brother Ebin
Jacob has complained to the Kochi city police that R C Qureshi, a member of the Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation and close aide of preacher Zakir Naik, had forced her to embrace Islam. Qureshi was arrested from Navi Mumbai on Wednesday.
Also missing is her husband Eshia, who was known as Bestin before conversion, Eshia’s brother Isa (Bexen before
conversion) and Isa’s wife Fatima (once known as Nimisha). Jacob has told police Eshia had taken Mirriam to Qureshi for conversion. Eshia’s Christian family who lives in Palakkad in turn says the two embraced Islam at the behest of Naik.
Based on Jacob’s complaint that Mirraim had been missing for a month, police have registered a case under Section
13 of the UAPA and Section 153 (a) of the IPC against Eshia and Qureshi.
Her family claims Fathima, who was studying in a dental college, married Isa, a farmer, within four days of meeting him.
Data on conversion obtained by police from various conversion centres shows that 5,793 people have embraced Islam in the last five years.