Aarif Majid, one of the four Muslim youth who had reportedly left India in May this year to fight alongside the militant group Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, has returned on Friday morning, The Hindu has learnt.
The four young men identified as Aarif Majid, Fahad Shaikh, Amaan Tandel and Saheem Tanki hail from Kalyan district in Thane on the outskirts of Mumbai.
On May 25, they left along with 40 others by an Etihad flight to Baghdad on a pilgrimage. On May 31, they called for a private taxi which dropped them at Mosul. Since then, they went missing and are believed to have joined the militant group.
On August 26, Saheem called up his brother informing him about Aarif’s death in a recent bombing.
But Aarif’s father received a call from his son saying he was alive and safe and currently hiding in Turkey and expressed his desire to return.
The Hindu was the first to report (November 26 edition) about the Home Ministry’s efforts to get the four youth back in India.
The Home Ministry has succeeded in reuniting one of them. The other three are learnt to have been holed up in Southern Iraq and efforts are underway to get them back, The Hindu has learnt.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) are conducting parallel probe into the case.
“Since the time the four youth have gone missing the numbers of their family members have been kept on surveillance to track their movements. Recently Aarif called up his father early this month and expressed his desire to return. His father shared the details of their conversation with the NIA and his number was tracked to Turkey. Diplomatic channels were then activated to get him back,” a senior police officer told The Hindu.
Sources in the agency have told the paper that the Home Ministry has decided to take a sympathetic view of the case and the government won’t press any case against him.
“Though his act amounts to an offence under Indian Penal Code (IPC) but since the issue is sensitive in nature and an arrest of the boys falling ‘prey’ to radicalization would trigger a debate and send a wrong signal, the home ministry has decided to take a sympathetic view and has decided not to press any case against them,” the officer said..
“His interrogation will also clear the point if indeed he went to Iraq to fight alongside the militant group,” he added.
“We will however interrogate him at length to understand the reasons for him leaving the country and to find out if there was any local element involved behind radicalising them,” the source further added.
“Going by the details available so for in the ongoing probe it has been found that the boys were brainwashed through the internet, but we will ask Aarif if there was somebody who provoked the four youth to join ISIS. If there is indeed any individual or group We might take action,” another source added.