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Government is violating the ‘fundamental rights’: Father of Kerala ISIS terrorist bride takes case to SC

Sebastian Francis, a VJ from Kerala, is asking the Supreme Court to direct the extradition of his daughter Sonia Sabastian alias Ayisha and his 7-year-old granddaughter. They are currently imprisoned in Afghanistan. In order to join ISIS, she left India. Francis requested that the authorities take all necessary steps to extradite his daughter and granddaughter. In his words, ‘Internationally, a lenient approach has been taken against foreign terrorist fighters based on the belief that women only perform ancillary duties and therefore don’t pose a significant threat to national security’.

According to him, the political and administrative landscape in Afghanistan will change substantially after the withdrawal of US troops. Accusing the Centre of not facilitating extradition, he alleged that its stand was illegal and unconstitutional. Additionally, he claimed that it was a violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. When Ayisha left India to join ISIS, a case was filed against her under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Interpol also issued a Red Corner notice against her in 2017. She surrendered to Afghan forces in November 2019 along with other women after her husband was killed at the hands of Afghan forces.

In her plea, Francis stated that in March 2020, an interview titled ‘Khorasan Files: The Journey of Indian Islamic State Widows’ was published on YouTube in which she said she regretted joining ISIS and wanted to return to India for a fair trial. According to him, there had been no information on Ayisha or her daughter since the interview. ‘After the defeat of the ISIS in Afghanistan, the Taliban have sought the immediate withdrawal of American forces from its soil… It is anticipated that the Taliban and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan may enter into a war, in which case foreign terrorist fighters could be hanged to death,’ he added.

Ayisha was born a Catholic Christian, but later began dating Abdulla Abdul Rashid alias Rishi as she studied for her engineering degree. When she moved to Bengaluru to study MBA, she became influenced by the Islamic discourse. Later, she converted to Islam without telling her parents. When she was performing Namaz in 2010, they discovered her relationship with Rashid.

She married Rashid when they opposed her actions. Over time, they became influenced by ISIS and left India to join the terrorist organization. They were stationed in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. Rashid died during military operations by the Afghan forces in 2019. Francis noted in his application that an extradition treaty was signed with Afghanistan in 2016 and that the instruments of ratification for the said treaty were exchanged in Kabul in November 2019. According to the petition, each contracting state has agreed to extradite any person who has committed an offense within the territory of one state but is found in the territory of another state in accordance with the extradition treaty.

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The Indian government announced that it would not allow the return of four women from Kerala who had joined ISIS, including Ayisha. Indu Sampath, the mother of ISIS terrorist Nimisha Fathima, said, ‘I’ve heard that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a very good person’, Bindu lamented that she had not yet received any communications from the Indian government. However, I am very optimistic because there will be other views in the government as well. I am counting on it. I believe in God. I am sure that God will create a situation for her return,’ she had opined.

In 2016, Sonia and a group of 21 men and women from Kerala left India for Afghanistan with the ISKP, according to a charge sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2017. From Iran, they crossed into Afghanistan on foot. NIA officials said Sonia, from Kasargod in Kerala, left India on May 31, 2016, with her husband, Abdul Rashid Abdulla, from Mumbai airport. Sonia alias Ayisha is currently imprisoned in a government-run prison in Afghanistan, along with Merrin Jacob alias Mariyam, Nimisha alias Fathima and another woman named Raffaela.


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