Security forces recently gunned down two men, alleged to be terrorists, in Kashmir. Although there was some confusion at first, later it became clear that the duo hailed from Kerala.
With the Kerala government too confirming that the men belonged to their state, an interesting question has come up and that is what were men from Kerala doing in Kashmir and how did they get involved in the fight for Kashmir?
Kerala, which has always been known for its secular fibre, has witnessed a change in the past one decade. The Malabar coast, which was once just an activity for smuggling, is now being used to transport arms and ammunition for extremist groups.
According to sources in the Intelligence Bureau, things changed in Kerala following the abduction and murder of a reformist named Maulavi Abul Hassan Chekannur in the year 1993. A delay in the probe made some persons believe that security agencies were being lethargic about the probe intentionally.
The secular fibre has slowly begun to change in the state. While this was the case, a few years later, the Students Islamic Movement of India and the Islamic Sevak Sangh that were both very strong in Kerala were banned. It was during this period that sentiments among some Muslims began to grow stronger.
This fact was taken advantage of by Pakistan-based terror groups who began swooping into the state. The IB says that it was easy for them to gain a strong footing in the state.
A large number of the SIMI cadres in Kerala were upset with the ban and it was easy meat to brain wash these youth to join the movement.
The rebuilding process of SIMI commenced a few years after it was banned and the outfit spread its tentacles wide in the state. The SIMI base was getting stronger with each day and according to the IB, they had become strongest in areas of Binanipuram near Aluva in Ernakulam district, Malappuram and Kozhikode.
The first traces of a Kerala module being involved in a terrorist activity came to light after the Coimbatore blast. Investigations revealed that Tamil Nadu-based Al-Umma had worked closely with Abdul Nasir Madhani, founder of the Kerala-based Islamic Sevak Sangh.
The IB says Pakistan-based groups helped these splinter groups in Kerala to regroup and set up base in the state. For the ISI, which was behind the entire operation, Kerala was the perfect destination.
A report by the Union Home Ministry had also indicates that Pakistan-based groups backed by the ISI were helping local groups set up base in Kerala. The mindset of some of the youth and the logistics were two reasons for choosing Kerala as a base, the IB says.
Pakistan-based groups realised that over the years that it was becoming increasingly difficult to infiltrate into India and wage a war in Kashmir and hence, they decided it would be best to recruit home-bred Jihadis in this war.
First and foremost, it was easier to send cadres into Kashmir from India rather than have them infiltrate through borders and dodge the strong security presence. Secondly, the ISI wants to give the impression that the fight for Kashmir is not only restricted to Pakistan, but there were a large number of persons within India who too shared their views on Kashmir.
Pakistan-based terror groups also found that support among the misguided youth of Kerala was stronger when compared to other states and hence this state was chosen as one of the key destinations to set up training camps.
Another fact that comes to mind is that Kerala had played a crucial role in setting up the Indian Mujahideen, a wing of the Students Islamic Movement of India. The likes of Abdul Peedical Shibly and Yahya Kamakutty, both Kerala cadres who were arrested in Indore and Karnataka respectively had played a key role in recruiting techies into their outfit.
Investigations have also revealed that the recruitment process was so effective that SIMI and the IM had the men to even outsource cadres for operations in other countries.
The killing of two Kerala-based cadres in the Kashmir Valley is only the beginning of a new trend that is being witnessed in the battle for Kashmir.
A police officer from Kerala says they picked up a man by the name Abdul Jaleel from Edakadu in Kannur, who is alleged to have links with the men waging a war in Kashmir. His telephone records and diaries reveal that he has links with terrorists in Kashmir and further investigation would give a clear picture on how cadres from Kerala are being recruited for the battle for Kashmir.