The Kerala police along with the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad arrested Arshid Qureshi , alleged to be a member of Zakir Naik 's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), on Wednesday night for recruiting Kerala youths for the terror outfit Islamic State. If his links with IRF are confirmed, this could be the first arrest of a member of televangelist Naik's organisation, under the scanner since two of the Bangladesh cafe attackers said they were inspired by his preachings. An IRF spokesperson refused to comment.
Qureshi was held after the police raided a flat in Seawoods. He was produced before a magistrate's court in CBD-Belapur on Thursday and remanded in transit custody for four days. He will be questioned by the Maharashtra ATS and later taken to Kerala. Ebin Jacob (25), the brother of Merin alias Mariam who is missing along with her husband Bestin Vincent alias Yahia from Kerala, had told police that there was an attempt to forcibly convert him to Islam and make him join IS. Ebin had told Kochi police that Bestin and Qureshi were behind the attempted conversion.
Based on this statement, the Palarivattom police slapped charges under Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on the duo and booked them under sections of the IPC. "As per the statement, Qureshi insisted that Ebin should embrace Islam and join IS. It was Bestin who compelled Ebin to come to Mumbai and meet Qureshi," Ernakulam ACP K V Vijayan, the investigating officer, had said. Ebin's statement said he was taken to Mumbai by Bestin, who had been indoctrinated, in 2014.
Kerala police said that at Qureshi's house in Mumbai, Ebin was taken to a library. Qureshi also made a comparison of all the religions. Ebin was told that Islam was superior to all other religions and that people in India were not leading a righteous life. However, Ebin did not fall for this talk and returned to Kerala. The case against Qureshi and Bestin could be the first registered under UAPA against any of the 21 Keralites who have gone missing and allegedly joined the IS.