The youngest of the missing Malwani four suspected of being radicalised by the Islamic State, Ayaz Sultan (23) now wants to return home but fears that he will be put behind bars like Areeb Majeed, an alleged ISIS recruit from Kalyan who later returned to India. Ayaz’s family claims he has been in constant touch with them through WhatsApp and has asked for money so he can come back. However, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) suspects this may be an attempt to mislead investigators.
Ayaz had left his home in Malwani on October 30, saying he had to go to Pune for a job offer from a Kuwait-based company. Ayaz took his money, belongings and passport and never returned. The ATS and other agencies said he left the country. On December 15, three more men from Malwani left their homes and were also suspected to have joined ISIS. Two of them — Wajid Sheikh and Noor Mohammad Shaikh — were traced and brought back to Mumbai, while the hunt is on for the fourth person, Mohsin Sheikh.
A few days before the news of their departure broke in the media, Ayaz had spoken to his sister on the phone and had told her that he is in Iraq and safe. Later, however, he was careful to converse with them only on WhatsApp over a WiFi connection, so he could not be tracked.
His mother, Raziya, said, “I do not know where my son is; he never tells us his location. I know he wants to come back but is afraid that he will be harassed by the Indian Police upon his return.” She said he feared that he would meet a similar fate like Majeed, who was arrested under Section 125 (waging war against any Asiatic Power in alliance with the government of India) of IPC.
Ayaz’s sister Shaina said she is currently in contact with him on the same messaging platform. “He was online today (Tuesday), but did not talk. Whenever he is online, we try to talk to him. Now I just want him back and want the Indian government to help,” said Raziya, adding that Ayaz had even asked her for money once, but she had refused saying she was the only earning member in the family now, and even taking care of basics had become difficult.