Thiruvananthapuram: At least two Kerala-based families have been able to identify their children who had reportedly joined the Islamic State terrorist group and have now surrendered before the agencies in Afghanistan that had sent them pictures for identification.
Bindhu, the mother of one Nimisha who converted to Fathima, said she was also able to identify her son-in-law Bexen and her granddaughter.
“Four or five photographs were sent to us. In one of them, a man and five women were sitting. I could identify the man as my son-in-law. I forwarded that picture to Bexen's mother and she, too, has confirmed it. My granddaughter can also be seen in the photo sitting on the lap of a woman wearing a blue veil. Most probably that is my daughter,” Bindhu said.
In July 2016, 20 people who reportedly went missing from Kerala were suspected to have joined IS. Most of them hailed from Kasargode district.
The missing included six couples and two children — two of the women were pregnant. The group reportedly included two doctors, three or four engineers, and an MBA graduate. Rashid Abdulla, who is also missing since that time, is suspected to be the leader of this group and had spearheaded the recruitment drive.
Among the missing were brothers Bexen and Bestin and their wives Nimisha and Merin. The brothers were born in Christian families before converting to Islam. Nimisha, born a Hindu, became Fathima after conversion.
Merin, also born into a Christian family, became Mariam after embracing Islam. Nimisha was a dental student in Kasargode when she converted and married Bexen. Before leaving in 2016, they allegedly told their families they were going to Sri Lanka.
So far, there has been no official confirmation from the central agencies or the Ministry of External Affairs on the number of Indian IS affiliates who have surrendered in Afghanistan.
However, Bindhu was ecstatic as the photograph and unconfirmed news seemed like a ray of hope after three years of struggle to find her daughter. Bindhu said she was not concerned about the impending cases or the long way ahead as long as her daughter and family come back home.
“I am not worried about the case or anything else because if they come out of Afghanistan, nothing is impossible. Let the case go on (for as long as it can), my daughter did not manipulate, convert or kill anyone. Let it take time. Once she is in India, I would be very happy. Let us not look at the negative elements in this positive moment,” she said.
Bindhu also expressed excitement about meeting her granddaughter whom she is yet to see in person. “Soon after I saw the picture, I started thinking of preparing dosa and potato curry, my daughter's favourite dish, and taking it to Delhi when she comes back,” she said.
When asked about the struggle of the last three years, Bindhu said the key was to stay positive that her daughter would return one day.
“I was sure about this. There were no doubts. Many relatives, friends and neighbours stopped talking to me, but I did not lose heart. I have no complaints against anyone. I was sure my daughter will return and now I finally got a positive news," she said.
Over the past three years, Bindhu has sought help from the state and central governments and even the administration in Kabul while looking for her daughter. She said the Centre has been particularly helpful.
Bindhu recalled the time when she sunk into depression and was unable to sleep for about two months.
“That is when I decided to take care of myself and concentrate on my goals. My key was to stay positive and I started exercising, along with doing my work as a makeup artist. I have a piece of advice for all those who are going through a low phase in life. Don't listen to neighbours, relatives or friends. Only listen to yourself,” she added.