Kochi native among four Keralites killed in Kashmir encounter

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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 spreading 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.

He had reportedly converted to Islam about six months ago.

His father Alexander Joseph told a local television channel that the family had no contact with Varghese Joseph alias Mohd.Yasin for the past three months and did not know about his activities.

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 roots to other areas and communities in Kerala indicates the growing terror network in the state.

Earlier, activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Indian Mujahideen were reported to have taken part in a training camp in Wagamon in Kottayam district of Kerala in December, 2007, and allegedly plotted the serial bomb blasts in several cities.

UNI ARC VV AKJ HT1440

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