The locations of the four young men who had flown to Iraq in May to allegedly join Islamic State (IS) militants have been identified by Indian intelligence agencies.
Aarif Majid, a resident of Kalyan in Mumbai, who was believed to have been killed, has been traced to Turkey.
On November 20, he contacted his relatives on the phone and sought their help for his return.
“His father has reported the matter to National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials in Mumbai. All efforts are on to bring him back,” said a senior Home Ministry official.
Intelligence agencies have located the other three young men from Kalyan, identified as Saleem Farooq Tanki, Fahad Tanveer Shaikh and Aman Naeem Tandel, to southern Iraq.
“It is not yet clear how Aarif managed to flee Iraq [and reach Turkey]. We have received reports that the other three are also desperate to come back and a couple of them have also contacted their relatives seeking help. However, under the present circumstances in Iraq, it would be difficult to rescue them,” said the official, indicating that the government might treat their case sympathetically.
Went missing in Mosul On May 25, they left along with 40 others by an Etihad flight to Baghdad on a pilgrimage. On May 31st, they called for a private taxi which dropped them off in Mosul. Since then they are missing.
According to a senior police officer privy to the developments, the Home Ministry has managed to activate diplomatic channels.
“We are hopeful that we might be able to get the youths back and reunite them with their families,” said the officer. If indeed this mega exercise undertaken by the Home Ministry materialises, it might be a major boost for the Modi government.
The families of the youths had met Home Minister Rajnath Singh requesting him to look into the case and even communicated the desires of their sons to return home. Both the NIA and the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad are conducting a parallel probe.
(With additional reporting from Rashmi Rajput in Mumbai)