Kochi: Kerala police Monday claimed Arshi Qureshi, guest relations officer of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation, who was arrested from Mumbai last week in connection with a missing Kerala woman, has links with terror outfit Islamic State.
Controversial Islamic preacher and televangelist Zakir Naik runs the foundation.
In a report filed before the District and Sessions Court here seeking police custody of Qureshi and Rizvan Khan, who was also held from Mumbai last week, police claimed both had facilitated recruitment of Merin alias Mariam, who is missing along with her husband Bestin Vincent alias Yahiya from the state, to ISIS.
While Qureshi has been made first accused, Bestin Vincent is the second accused and Rizvan Khan the third accused in the missing case.
Khan was also associated with the Islamic Research Foundation and was one of the organizers of Naik’s recent press meet in which he addressed the media through video conferencing.
Both Qureshi and Rizvan Khan were sent to 14-day police custody by the court.
Police claimed Qureshi and Bestin Vincent had jointly hatched a plan to take Merin to Mumbai to convert her to Islam from Christianity and recruit her to ISIS to carry out terror activities both inside and outside the country.
The religious conversion of Merin and her marriage with Yahiya was facilitated by Rizvan Khan, police said.
Police claimed it had proof that the accused had facilitated religious conversion of Merin and others through Juma Masjid of Bombay Trust, from a raid conducted at the residence of Qureshi.
“Aarshi Qureshi has been working as the guest relations officer of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation. A thorough probe is required to find out whether this organization has any role in the case,” the report by the police said.
Since the past few days, the police officials have been questioning Qureshi and Khan, who have not admitted that they had forcibly converted Merin.
They have also denied any knowledge of about 19 other youths including women and children who have mysteriously disappeared from Kerala.
The police probe team plans to now seek the help of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in finding out more about the duo and their acts.
The police had traced Qureshi to Mumbai following a complaint lodged in Kochi by the brother of Merin who is suspected to have joined ISIS along with her husband.
Ebin Jacob (25), brother of Merin who is missing along with her husband Bestin Vincent from Kerala, had told police in Kochi that there was an attempt to forcibly convert him to Islam and make him join ISIS, and that Bestin and Qureshi were behind it.
Based on this, Kerala police slapped charges under Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on the duo and booked them under sections of the IPC.
Both Qureshi and Rizwan Khan, arrested by Kerala police and aided by Maharashtra police in two separate operations last week, were brought here Sunday by air under tight security for questioning.
While Qureshi was arrested on July 21, Khan was picked up from his residence at Kalyan in Thane district on Friday night.
(With agency inputs)