Zee Media Bureau
Mumbai: Amidst reports that four Indians are believed to have joined the ISIS, the Maharashtra police now suspect that more young men may have `enrolled` in the Sunni militant group in Iraq.
According to a news channel, around 15 men are missing from Bhiwandi and Mumbra in the Thane district near Mumbai.
These are the same areas from where Aarif Majid, Aman Tandel, Saleem Tanki and Fahad Shaikh have been missing since May, when they allegedly went on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala in Iraq.
All of them left in the last week of May, claiming they were going for a pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala.
According to reports, police suspect a local businessman incited the young men.
"Our investigations have been on for a while. A lot of evidence has been collected and we are studying all this to investigate how these young men were indoctrinated and who funded their trip," the channel quoted a top official of Maharashtra`s Anti-Terrorism Squad as saying.
On Monday, a news agency quoted diplomatic sources as saying that hundreds of Indian Muslim youth, mostly from poor and vulnerable backgrounds, are lining up for visas at the embassies of some of the Gulf and Middle East nations with the aim of joining the `jehad` in Iraq.
Iraq alone has had to deal with nearly 2,000 applications from highly-charged Muslim youth from all over the country, particularly from Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, these sources said.
When consular officials of one of the embassies informed some of these youth that it was not possible to give them visas, many said that "we will go, visa or no visa," said a source, who spoke to the news agency on the condition that neither he nor his embassy was identified.
The volatile situation in Iraq and the Levant region is giving Indian security and intelligence officials plenty of sleepless nights because of the danger of a jehadi spillover to India as the "contagion" has the potential to spread through the Islamist arc from the Middle East to China through Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
As a result, India has stepped up security dialogues and intelligence exchanges with a range of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Syria and South Africa, besides its regular strategic dialogue partners like the US, Britain, France and Germany.
The close security cooperation resulted in National Security Adviser Ajit Doval making an unannounced visit to Iraq some weeks ago to secure the release of the Indian nurses in the conflict-torn country.
(With IANS inputs)