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Pinarayi Vijayan says Centre should decide as Kerala-born widows of ISIS terrorists seek to return to India

Amidst the calls by parents of the women terrorists to allow the return of their daughters back to India, the Kerala Chief Minister on Monday said that the centre will decide on bringing back these four Kerala women lodged in the Kabul jail.

Days after media reports emerged suggesting that the centre had decided not to allow the return of four Kerala-based women who had joined Islamic State (IS), the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that Centre should decide their fate.

Amidst the calls by parents of the women terrorists to allow the return of their daughters back to India, the Kerala Chief Minister on Monday said that the centre will decide on bringing back these four Kerala women lodged in the Kabul jail.

Speaking to the media, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan said the issue has to be decided by the Centre, and the state government has nothing to do with the issue. He said that the state government has no role to play in the matter. While PTI cited that Pinarayi Vijayan referred to ISIS terrorists as fighters, some local media reported that the Kerala Chief Minister did not use those words.

The Chief Minister also said that they needed to know whether the four IS terrorists are ready to come to India. Pinarayi Vijayan asked the centre to seek the opinion of the family members of the four Kerala-based IS terrorists.

The four women identified as – Sonia Sebastian alias Ayisha, Merrin Jacob alias Mariyam, Nimisha alias Fathima Isa and Raffaela, had accompanied their husbands to join the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) in 2018. However, their husbands, ISIS terrorists, were killed in different attacks in Afghanistan.

Following their death, the Kerala-based Muslim women, along with thousands of other Islamic State terrorists, had surrendered before the Afghanistan authorities in November and December 2019.

Family of terrorists requests centre to allow their return

The latest controversy surrounding the return of Kerala-based IS terrorists comes amidst repeated requests by their family members to allow the return. Recently, the mother of one such terrorist had expressed hope that PM Modi will pardon her daughter.

Bindu Sampath, the mother of ISIS terrorist Nimisha Fathima, said, “I’ve heard that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a very kind-hearted person. I have full faith in him.” Bindu lamented that she had not received any communication from the Indian government so far. “But I am very positive because there will be other views also in the government. I am banking on that. I believe in God. I am sure that God will create a situation for her return,” she opined.

The mother of the ISIS terrorist wished to meet PM Modi and submit a memorandum seeking her daughter’s repatriation to India. Bindu emphasised that she would follow the legal route to bring Nimisha Fathima back.

Nimisha Fathima was a Hindu prior to her conversion to Islam. She adopted the name of “Fathima Isa” after her marriage to an ISIS terrorist. Along with 19 others from Kerala, she flew to Afghanistan in June 2016 to wage war against the US forces in ISIS-controlled Khorasan Province. She had given birth to a child there. After her terrorist husband was neutralised, she surrendered to the Afghan government in 2019. 

According to the Hindu report, a senior government official confirmed that the four Kerala-based women, who had travelled to Nangarhar in Afghanistan in the years 2016-18, will not be allowed to return to the country.

The Indian investigation agencies had interviewed the four women living with children in Kabul. During the interview with the women, the investigation agencies had found out that they have a strong stance in favour of Islamic terrorism, and hence, India is likely to request the Afghanistan authority to prosecute the women there itself.

Four couples from Kerala had joined Islamic State: NIA

According to the charge sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2017, Sonia Sebastian had left India in 2016 to join the ISKP in Afghanistan along with a group of 21 men and women from Kerala. They had crossed over to Afghanistan on foot from Iran.

The NIA said Sebastian, from Kasargod in Kerala, left India on May 31, 2016, with her husband, Abdul Rashid Abdulla, from Mumbai airport. They had said the couple held secret classes supporting IS and jihad during the last part of Ramzan in Padanna and Kasaragod. Sebastian is an engineering graduate.

Another IS sympathiser, Merrin Jacob alias Mariyam, was married to Bestin Vincent, a resident of Palakkad. The couple escaped to Afghanistan in 2016 to live in the IS-controlled territory. Later, the Chrisitan couple converted to Islam after their marriage, and Vincent assumed the identity of Yahya. Vincent was later killed in Afghanistan.

Similarly, Vincent’s brother Bexon and his wife, Nimisha alias Fathima, also converted to Islam and escaped to Afghanistan with them.

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