Early this week, Noor Mohamed Sheikh, one of the four Malvani youth who allegedly fled to join the Islamic State (IS) but returned later, attempted suicide as he felt “guilty” of his actions that brought “disrepute” to his family, police sources said.
Four youth — Ayaz Sultan, Noor Sheikh, Wajid Sheikh and Mohsin Sheikh — fled the city between October and December last year, allegedly to join the Ansar-ul-Tahwid (AuT) headed by former Indian Mujahideen member Shafi Armar alias Yusuf. AuT has pledged its allegiance to the global terror outfit the Islamic State (IS) and has been trying to get Indian recruits.
Noor took the extreme step this week, just days after the National Investigation Agency (NIA), along with six state counter-terrorism agencies including the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS), started a clampdown against alleged IS sympathisers across the country and arrested 14 people, including three “self-styled leaders” of a homegrown terror outfit, the Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-hind, recently formed by these members who support the IS.
Fearing he might also be arrested despite “returning voluntarily”, Noor allegedly consumed a poisonous substance suspected to be pesticide at his residence late in the night. Next morning, his family members saw him lying unconscious and rushed him to Shatabdi hospital in Borivali where he was provided medical help. They also informed the local police about the incident.
After his condition stabilised, Noor’s statement was recorded before an Executive Magistrate under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
According to sources, Noor allegedly stated that he got “radicalised by the IS ideology” owing to indoctrination subjected to through the IS propaganda material available online and the brainwashing done by his handlers who met him and the other youth on various occasions in Mumbai. He did not think about his family members while fleeing the city. However, upon realising that his poor financial condition will only affect his family harder, he realised his mistake and returned to them on his own accord. The recent clampdown by Indian agencies against IS sympathisers had stressed him and owing to the “disrepute” the arrest might bring to his family he tried to commit suicide as he had “wronged” them.
While Noor is out of danger and is likely to be discharged tomorrow, the Mumbai police has not booked him for attempt to suicide, a punishable offence in India. Sources say a case is unlikely to be slapped on Noor.
Even the ATS probing the matter has so far not arrested the two men who ‘returned’ and are only questioning them regularly.
A case under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) has been registered against Sultan. The ATS also arrested Rizwan Nawazuddin, who was picked up during the clampdown. Sources claim he is the alleged handler of the four youth and had sent them videos on application-based chats of IS propaganda which was instrumental in brainwashing them.