NEARLY a week after the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) slapped a case under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against Malwani youth Ayyaz Sultan, the fate of the two other youths whose ‘return was facilitated’ by the agency hangs in balance.
According to sources in the state counter terrorism agency, the decision on whether or not to book the two under the same Act will depend on the capture of the third missing youth.
Four youths, all residents of the Malwani locality in Malad West went missing from their homes between October and the second week of December. They have been identified as autorickshaw driver Mohsin Sheikh, unemployed graduate Wajid Sheikh, another unemployed man named Ayyaz Sultan and Noor Sheikh who did odd jobs.
While Sultan has been tracked to Kabul, Wajid and Noor ‘returned’ last month. Mohsin is still on the run.
“The two have blamed Mohsin for fleeing claiming they just acted on his instructions. They claim that after Sultan’s parents lodged a missing persons’ complaint and kept on inquiring with the two men on Sultan’s whereabouts, Mohsin suggested to go underground as police might trouble them and even arrest them as they had downloaded material pertaining to the Islamic State on their phones which is prohibited under law. On his advice they all decided to flee and left their homes on December 15,” said a senior officer from the agency.
Both Wajid and Noor are being grilled by the agency since their return and have not been given a clean chit yet. Mohsin has gone off the radar and efforts are underway to track him down, sources claimed.
According to sources, the duo have told interrogators that the plan was to board trains separately and travel alone. However, the police are not buying their version and have launched a manhunt to track Mohsin. Sources claim Mohsin’s capture will help the agency find out the facts.
“While they might claim they travelled separately and did not know about each other’s movements, we have reasons to believe that all three travelled to Chennai to procure passports but failed to do so for want of rent agreements. This theory would be clear once we get Mohsin. Also, they left their cell phones behind so that their movements could not be tracked by the agency, this too they claim was Mohsin’s idea. We feel that since Mohsin has not been captured, the duo are claiming innocence and blaming Mohsin,” added the source. The uncertainty is one of the reasons behind not booking them under UAPA like Sultan.
Meanwhile, the duo have told the ATS sleuths that it was Sultan who used to download the materials relating to the banned outfit on their cell phones and instructed them to read and follow it. “They claim that Sultan, who was radicalised online, used to download the materials on their cell phones and ask them to follow it. They claim the content read by them was downloaded by him and the quartet used to have lengthy discussions over it. It was during these discussions Sultan once expressed the need of travelling to Afghanistan and serving the Caliphate,” added the official.