At least 15 youths from Kerala's Kasaragod and Palakkad districts who had travelled to the Middle East have gone missing for the last one month and their families suspect they may have joined the Islamic State.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has directed the police to launch a probe into the matter urgently, Kasaragod MP P Karunakaran said.
The families of the youths, including a couple, have not heard from them for the past one month and fear that they have been radicalised after having gone to the Middle East for religious studies.
Kasaragod District Panchayat member V P P Mustafa said that during Eid, the parents of two missing youths received 'Whatsapp' messages saying "we are not coming back. Here there is Divine Rule. You also should join us".
"We have joined IS to fight US for attacking Muslims", read another message, he said adding the veracity of the messages has to be checked.
On being approached by the families, Karunakaran, Thrikarippur MLA M Rajagopalan and Mustafa informed the Chief Minister about the matter.
Rajagopal told PTI that all those missing were below the age of 30 and highly qualified.
"The Chief minister has asked police to launch a probe into the matter urgently," Karunakaran said on Saturday.
He said the family members of the missing youths met him yesterday and brought the matter to his notice.
Hakim, father of Hafesuddin who is among those missing from Kasaragod, told television channels that his son had left a month ago and there was no news from him.
"If he returns as a good man, I will welcome him. If not, I do not want to see even his dead body," he said.
Karunakaran said the family members told him that the youths had left for Middle East a month ago stating that they were going for religious studies.
But for the last one month, their families had no communication from them and so they were suspicious, he said.
The youths hail from Padna and Thrikaripur in Kasaragod district and Palakkad district.
While 11 hail from Padna and Thrikaripur in the northernmost Kasaragod district of Kerala, others are from Palakkad district.
Mustafa said among the missing were Dr Ijas and his dentist wife. They had left home saying they were going to Lakshadweep, he told PTI.
Abdul Rasheed, an engineering graduate, had left home with his wife and a two-year old daughter, stating that they were going to Mumbai for a job.
All the youths hail from middle class families and had been showing keen interest in religious matters since the last two years, Mustafa said.