Keralites killed in Kashmir encounter; cops question associates

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Kochi, Oct 26 (UNI) Four Keralites are now confirmed to have been killed in an encounter with police in Kashmir earlier this month, indicating the deeper roots of the terror network spreeding in the southern state.

Varghese Joseph, a native of Kochi, who reportedly converted to Islam about six months ago and was re-named Mohd Yasin, and Faiz from Kannur district of Kerala, have now been confirmed to be among four Keralites killed by police in Kashmir in early October.

Earlier, Mohd Fayaz of Kannur and Abdul Rahim of Malappuram district were confirmed to have been killed by Kashmir police in an encounter.

Senior police officials here told UNI that Varghese Joseph, a part of the 'Shaji Thamannam' goonda gang in Kochi, had a prior police record and had been booked in some cases.

According to police, he had been undergoing indoctrination by fundamentalist groups for the past two to three years.

While the fundamentalist organisations were earlier reported to be recruiting minority community youth from the northern districts of Kannur, Malappuram and Kozhikode, the spreading of their tentacles to other areas and communities in Kerala indicates the growing terror network in the state.

Alarmed over the growing extremist activities in the relatively peaceful state, the government had set up a special investigation team headed by Inspector General of Police T K Vinod Kumar to probe the issue.

Earlier, the police had arrested four suspected activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in the state.

They were Mohinuddin alias Thaha(31) hailing from Kothamangalam, Mohammed Nizar(20) of Paravur, Askar(20) of Kodungallur and Mohammed Nizar(33) hailing from Azhikode, said a senior police officer.

Reports quoting intelligence sources said Muslim extremists lure socially disadvantaged youth giving them financial aid and assistance in their academic persuit.

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