Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Saturday ordered a probe into reports that at least 17 youths, including three women, from the state who travelled to the Middle East and reportedly went missing, may have joined the Islamic State (IS), with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan saying it is a "very serious issue".
The disappearance of the youths, some of whom are medicos and engineering graduates, came to the fore after their relatives brought the matter before the authorities.
Some families from Kasargod and Palakkad districts had approached Kasargod MP P Karunakaran and expressed fear that
their children were missing for the past one month and they have no contact with them.
The chief minister termed the issue as "very serious" and ordered an urgent probe. "This is a very serious issue.
This has to be examined," he told reporters in Kochi.
When contacted, DGP Loknath Behara said on the basis of information provided by the families, police has started
"We do not know if children and women are part of the group. But they (families) say that some women are in the group. We also do not have any confirmation so far that the missing youths have joined the IS. But we have started investigation", Behara told PTI.
Of the 17 persons, 11 hail from Padna and Thrikaripur in the northernmost Kasaragod district while the others hailed
from Palakkad. There are at least three women including an eight month pregnant woman.
Meanwhile, families of two more youths filed a complaint before Chandera police in Kasaragod about their disappearance.
The two youths had called up to say they would return during Eid. But they have not returned and their relatives have filed a complaint, police said.
However, the complaint does not state that they are suspecting IS links.
All the missing persons are below the age of 30 and highly qualified, including medicos and engineering graduates, family members said.
Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan said in Kasargode that a detailed probe would be conducted into the issue.
"If they are trapped in their (IS) net and are in territory held by them, it would be a very difficult issue. A
detailed probe would be conducted on this issue," he told reporters.
Earlier, Kasargod MP P Karunakaran told PTI in Thiruvananthapuram that the chief minister had directed the
police to launch a probe into the matter urgently.
Kasaragod District Panchayat member VPP Mustafa said that during Eid, the parents of two missing youths received 'Whatsapp' messages saying "we are not coming back. Here there is Divine Rule. You also should join us. We have joined IS to fight US for attacking Muslims", read another message, he said, adding the veracity of the messages has to be checked.
On being approached by the families on Friday, Karunakaran, Thrikarippur MLA M Rajagopalan and Mustafa informed the chief minister about the matter.
Hakim, father of Hafesuddin who is among those missing from Kasaragod, said that his son had left a month ago and there was no news from him.
"If he returns as a good man, I will welcome him. If not, I do not want to see even his dead body," he said.