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Don’t want to look back at the past, says Pune teen who was arrested on suspicion of terror

“In 2015, I got influenced by IS ideology and I was in online contact with some people and some groups... for that, I was too active on Facebook. After that, ATS came to me and questioned me. They arranged a deradicalisation session with a local Maulana," said Sadiya Shaikh.

Sadiya Shaikh (left) with her mother at a press conference in Pune on Monday. (Express Photo by Sandeep Daundkar)

Sadiya Shaikh, the 18-year-old girl from Pune who was arrested on January 26 over suspicion that she was planning to carry out a suicide attack in Kashmir, has said that she doesn’t “want to look back at her past,” and only wanted to continue her education.  Jammu and Kashmir Police had arrested Shaikh and one more person after they received intelligence inputs about a girl from Pune who was “planning to carry out a suicide bomb attack near or inside the Republic Day Parade venue” in the Valley. She was later released due to lack of evidence.

In a press conference in Pune on Monday, Shaikh said she had gone to Jammu and Kashmir to secure admission in a nursing course at a local college.

“After I went to Jammu and Kashmir, there were reports that a girl from Pune may try to carry out a suicide bomb attack. After these reports, Pune Police contacted my family which, in turn, told me to either come back to Pune or speak to police on video call… but you know that Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir are shut down around January 26… I could not speak to the police. I tried to get in touch with the principal of the college where I was planning to get admission, but could not contact him. So, I was thinking about what to do. I took a taxi to go to Srinagar… there is a place called Avantipora on the way, where there was a check point. They stopped the car and started asking me questions,” said Shaikh.

“I told people at the check-point that I was Sadiya from Pune, and a news was being circulated that Sadiya was going to do this. They frisked me and checked my bags. After they didn’t find anything, they took me to a police station. They took my cell phone, asked for the password, unlocked it and then they started their investigation. I was taken to women’s police station, where many agencies came to me and questioned me. I told them about my admission. After they did not find anything, they let me go,” she added.

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When asked about reports that she had visited Jammu and Kashmir in July 2017, Sadiya said, “Whatever happened to me in the last few days, it was an effect of my past on my future. So, I do not want to look back at the past. I want to talk about my present and my future. I want to continue my education.”

In December 2015, following inputs that some youth from Pune were getting attracted to the Islamic State’s propaganda on social media, the Pune unit of the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) had identified Sadiya, who was 16 at the time, as one of them. She was found to be “mentally prepared” to go to Syria to join the Islamic State after being influenced by online operatives of the terrorist organisation. The ATS had then provided counselling to her.

When asked about the events in 2015, Sadiya said, “In 2015, I got influenced by IS ideology and I was in online contact with some people and some groups… for that, I was too active on Facebook. After that, ATS came to me and questioned me. They arranged a deradicalisation session with a local Maulana. They were successful… I continued my college, I was in Class 12 at the time.”

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Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Muneer Khan, told The Indian Express over the phone on Monday, “The girl from Pune was arrested by us under certain suspicions and was later remanded to judicial custody. In the course of the investigation, we have not found any substantial evidence against her for the activities in the valley. So, she has been handed over to her family.”

First published on: 06-02-2018 at 09:48:36 am
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