Thiruvananthapuram: Four youths have been deported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on suspicion of being sympathisers of the Islamic State (IS), a senior government official has said. He is said to be belonging to the Hindu religion.
So far, their direct link to the militant group has not been established. Investigators said their role was limited to sending and receiving “radical content on Facebook.” The messages were intercepted by the UAE authorities.
A senior official said the Hindu boy was a core member of the online group. He was one of the recipients of the messages being circulated on social networking platforms and he too had, on occasions, forwarded the “radical content” to others.
The deportees were part of an online circle of 10 friends who had links with a 20-year-old Keralite, who is believed to have joined the ranks of the Islamist group in Syria. Investigators said this youth, a college dropout, “disappeared” in April from Ras al-Khaima. His father, a white-collar worker, was employed in the Emirates for years. The youth had done his schooling there and his visits, if any, to Kerala were few and far between.
While the four youths were deported on Tuesday, three others had come back from the UAE of their own volition last week. Three more were deported in the first week of September.
“All these men are in the 19-24 age-group and are second generation Keralites living in the UAE. They were engaged in small jobs like repairing mobile phones and selling SIM cards,” said a senior Home Ministry official.
Two of the four youths disembarked at Karipur and the other two in Thiruvananthapuram. They are under detention, the Kerala police said.
The UAE had deported at least eight Keralites on suspicion of being IS sympathisers since May.
Most of the youths who had been deported from UAE since May on suspicion of being Islamic State sympathisers had online links with the allegedly radicalised NRI youth, Kerala police said.
The State police were yet to decide whether or not to press criminal charges against them. Both Central and State security agencies have opened separate dossiers on them.
“India has decided to opt for graded response in cases of radicalisation of young men. Instead of putting them behind bars, we will counsel them and keep them under watch. It is also a matter of their future. We are still undecided on the nature of cases to be slapped against them,” said a Home Ministry official.
Some officials in Kerala were of the view that a Keralite joining IS ranks had immense propaganda value for conflicting radical groups operating on either side of the narrow spectrum of religious fundamentalists in the State. Such socially divisive elements need to be denied any advantage from the recent developments.
The IS had expanded its global reach through the social media and Kerala was also vulnerable to the organisation’s online radicalisation drive.