At least 15 Muslims from Kerala, including five married couples, one of them with a two-year-old child, are reportedly missing from the Middle East where they had gone recently and are feared to have joined the Islamic State, according to relatives.
Last week, a few of their relatives received messages on WhatsApp from unknown numbers and destinations, claiming that the missing people have reached the place of “divine rule… Islamic State”, said sources.
On Friday, P Karunakaran, MP from Kasaragod, where 11 of those missing hail from, met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking a probe. The other four missing are from Palakkad district.
Sources said the 15 left their homes for the Middle East separately over the last month but are believed to have been in touch with each other. All of them were described as educated, with some of them confirmed to be doctors and engineers.
Sources said one couple told relatives that they were leaving for Mumbai to start a new business. A doctor, who left with his wife and two-year-old child, told relatives that they were leaving for Lakshadweep for him take up a new job.
Relatives of one of those missing said the “youths left on different days in the last one month”.
“It was only last week that we came to know that these missing persons knew one other. They are all educated youths, a few of them engineering and medical graduates. Some of them had worked in the Gulf and Bangalore before. They had never been associated with any political or religious organisation. But, over the last two years, they had turned orthodox, with the men sporting long beards,’’ said sources.
Referring to the WhatsApp messages, sources said that the sender of one claimed that he was with Islamic State. Another message invited the sender’s parents to join him, saying he has reached “divine country”.
Kerala DGP Lokanath Behera confirmed that the 15 youths who visited the Middle East have not returned to Kerala. “But we can’t come to any conclusions about their whereabouts. If tomorrow they all return, then the case would be a blunder. We don’t know who sent the messages and from where the messages originated. Besides, the families have not approached local police with a formal complaint,’’ said Behera.