Even as the Ministry of External Affairs and the Punjab government begin collecting DNA samples from the family members of 39 missing Indians believed to have been captured in Mosul by Islamic State (IS) militants, the family members of Tabrez Tambe, a Mumbra resident suspected to have joined the IS, said they had given up their search for him.
The family of Fahad Sheikh, one of four men from Kalyan who fled India to join the IS in May 2014, has also resigned to fate but hope for a “miracle”.
Sources in the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad meanwhile told The Indian Express that they hadn’t been asked to collect DNA samples of the families of the missing men.
“We are no longer approaching any law enforcement agency for an update on Tambe. We would be happy if he returns but we have been through hell, with investigators from various security agencies questioning us time and again. We are trying to put our lives back on track. We hope and pray he returns,” said a family friend close to the Tambes, who did not wish to be named.
When contacted, brother Saud, who had written to the Indian ambassador in Libya seeking help to locate and rescue Tambe, said he had not heard anything from the Maharashtra ATS that is probing the case on the whereabouts of his brother. “We are no more in touch with the ATS. We don’t have any update on his whereabouts and we don’t want to comment on this issue,” he said.
Dr Tanvir Sheikh, father of Fahad, said he had not spoken to his son for over two years now. “Initially, he used to call to talk to his mother but those calls have also stopped for over two years now,” Sheikh said. “There is light at the end of the tunnel and we hope that some day some magic happens,” he added.
Tambe, from Harnai in Ratnagiri, had completed his graduation from Mumbai University and subsequently done a diploma course in air cargo management. He has three brothers and a sister. In 2009, the family moved to Mumbra.
The Maharashtra ATS has booked him under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Its probe had revealed that Tambe was in the Libyan Army’s custody. While efforts were on to trace him with the help of Libyan authorities, sources said the trail had since gone cold.
According to the sources, Tambe was identified by Dr Ramamurthy Kosanam from Andhra who was rescued in February. Kosanam had been held captive by the IS and identified Tambe as a medical attendant in the hospital where he was forced to work.