Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 16: Padanna a village in Kasargod, Kerala boasts of a high social development especially when it comes to women. Several successful careers were made here and many have high paying jobs in West Asia. All that has changed today and this village is now being referred to as a hub for Islamic State related activities.
Out of the 21 persons suspected to have joined the IS, a majority are from Padanna and the people of this village are unable to come to terms with it. Have they really joined or are just missing, the residents of Padanna ask.
The parents of these youth are distraught. When the news first broke out in July 2016, Hakeem whose son Hafeesudheen had gone missing said, "If he is with some extremist outfit, then I do not want to see even his dead body." The statement by Hakeem makes it clear that there is a great deal of anger in Padanna which is today referred to an IS hub.
What changed in Padanna?
Going by the investigation documents which are over 1,000 in number, one gets the impression that there were attempts being made for long to target the youth in this village. The radicalisation did not take place directly in this village. The youth who had a normal childhood, perfect education had left for Saudi Arabia in search of jobs.
They may have been targeted there, investigators say. Many from the village spoke about a changed behaviour when these people came back on a holiday. Some of these youth, who had never visited a mosque had become regulars. They would spend a lot of time at the mosque. The manner in which they spoke had also changed. From the way they spoke, it had become evident that joining the IS was the only way to serve Islam.
After they had left their homes they called their parents and told them that they were in the land of Islam. The residents of this village are hurt and say that for the wrong doing by a few Padanna today is labelled as an IS den. These boys were clearly radicalised and misguided. They had no monetary issues and neither was their upbringing bad. They grew up like any other normal child and to see them in this state today hurts, the residents of this village lament.
On January 5 2016, the police raided several schools run by an Islamic preacher M M Akbar. Akbar was accused of having links with Indian nationals who had joined the IS. Investigators found that the schools run by Akbar was imparting education that was outside the curriculum.
Text books which had radical content too had been seized by the police. The police feel that it is this brand of education that was being imparted which may have led to the radicalisation of several youth.