'Bright' Pune Girl From 'Well To Do' Muslim Family Under Watch For ISIS Links

18/12/2015 8:27 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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An Indian Muslim man holds a banner during a protest against ISIS, an Islamic State group, and Friday's Paris attacks, in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. Multiple attacks across Paris on Friday night have left more than one hundred dead and many more injured. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

A Pune-based, 16-year-old Muslim girl, who was reportedly in touch with arrested Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) executive Mohammed Sirajuddin, has been questioned by sleuths of the Anti-Terrorism Squad for her contacts with ISIS sympathisers and sent to a de-radicalisation programme, according to reports.

An officer of ATS described the girl as a "bright" and "highly intelligent" convent-educated class XI student.

"The girl was interrogated by the ATS last week after monitoring her movements for many days on getting information about her. It confirmed her initiation by the ISIS. The interrogation of the girl revealed that she was ready to go to any extent to carry out the ISIS directive," Pune ATS officer Bhanupratap Barge told PTI.

Her family noticed a change in her when she completely changed her lifestyle. She started wearing a burqa and gave up jeans.

"Even her family members noticed the change in her and felt disturbed," the ATS inspector said.

According to the Times of India, Sirajuddin, who was arrested last week from Jaipur for his alleged links with the terror group, had formed a closed group of IS sympathisers on Facebook and WhatsApp. PTI reported that the girl got attracted to the ISIS ideology after watching a documentary on television and subsequently started regularly monitoring news on Al Jazeera.

She was about to visit Iran or Syria because IS members allegedly told her they were ready to bear the cost of her medical education. They had told her that "she should be in a position to do anything in her country for Islam", according to TOI.

"Later, she used the internet to get in touch with ISIS contacts and got in touch with about 200 young persons from different countries. Her interrogation revealed that she was told to come to Syria for medical education and for further initiation," Barge said.

Barge said the de-radicalisation programme of the ATS with the help of community clergy and family members was "working" for the girl with encouraging results.

Indian Express reported that the state ATS chief Vivek Phansalkar and IG Niket Kaushik zeroed in on the girl “using human and technical intelligence a few days ago” based on inputs received from others who were being lured by IS propaganda on social media.

ATS sleuths opted for counselling instead of registering a case as the girl was a minor, according to the Express report.

Pune has been on the terrorist radar and had witnessed bomb blasts including the German Bakery blast that killed 17 persons including many foreigners in 2010.

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