THE MOTHER of a Kerala-based youth, who had allegedly left the country in 2016 to join terror organisation Islamic State (ISIS), was on Friday declared hostile witness by a special court after she submitted that her son had not turned radical.
Ayesha Majeed, who deposed before a special court in Malayalam with the help of a translator, also denied that her son, Ashfaq, had spoken about being influenced by Arshi Qureshi, an employee of Islamic Research Foundation.
Ashfaq is alleged to have left the country, along with his wife, one-year-old daughter and other youngsters from Kerala, to join the IS in 2016.
A police complaint was registered in Mumbai by Majeed’s husband, who had claimed that their son was influenced by Qureshi and others.
While the police arrested Qureshi, a religious preacher, two others — Maulana Haneef and Rizwan Khan — were not chargesheeted by the NIA and released as no evidence was found against them. Qureshi, along with absconding accused Abdul Rashid Abdulla, were named by the NIA in its chargesheet. Qureshi is facing trial under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
In her statement to the Nagpada police in 2016, Majeed had said that Ashfaq was completing his education in Mumbai and that on his return to their village in Kerala, she had noticed that he was turning towards radical Islam.
She had also claimed that she had heard him speak to one ‘Arshibhai’, who the NIA has claimed was Qureshi.
On Friday, Majeed told the court that in 2016, her son went to Sri Lanka and returned in a month. After a few days, he again left claiming to be going to Sri Lanka with his wife and daughter and that he would return soon.
“But after he left, he called to say that he is not coming back. He said he had lied as otherwise, they would not let him go,” Majeed told the court. She also denied that she had heard her son speak of ‘Arshibhai’ or that he had told her that ‘Arshibhai’ had financed their trip to Sri Lanka.
After being declared hostile for not supporting the prosecution’s case, Majeed was cross-examined by Special Public Prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves. When asked if Ashfaq had told her that he is joining ISIS, Majeed answered in the affirmative.
Defence advocates Pathan Tehwar Khan and Ishrat Ali Khan, representing Qureshi, later asked Majeed if she had herself attended the call and spoken to her son. In reply, Majeed said she had not.
When asked by Gonsalves if she had seen any change in her son’s behaviour and attire before he left, Majeed said that he wore the usual attire of jeans and shirt and that he had a beard like everyone else. Majeed also said that she did not recognise names read out by the prosecutor of other youths who had travelled with her son to allegedly join ISIS.
So far, eight witnesses have been examined in the trial.
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