SC asks Union govt to decide on bringing back Kerala women who joined ISIS

The SC was hearing a plea by VJ Sebastian, whose daughter Sonia, alias Ayisha, and granddaughter are lodged in a jail in Afghanistan over charges of her joining ISIS.
A photo of Sonia Sebastian alias Ayisha who left India after joining ISIS
A photo of Sonia Sebastian alias Ayisha who left India after joining ISIS
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Can three women who had left India in 2016 with their husbands to join the Islamic State come back to the country? The Supreme Court on Monday, January 3, has asked the Union government to consider a Kerala resident’s plea asking that his daughter, who joined the Islamic State and later surrendered, be brought back from Afghanistan. 

The court was hearing the plea filed by VJ Sebastian, who is the father of Sonia Sebastian, who converted to Islam and now goes by the name Ayisha. Sebastian has sought that his daughter and granddaughter be brought back to India, stating that not bringing her back violates extradition treaties signed by India and Afghanistan to bring back those accused of an offence in India.

Sonia Sebastian alias Ayisha and her daughter are currently lodged in a prison in Afghanistan, before the Taliban took over. Sonia, who is facing a case under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in India, had married Abdul Rashid Abdulla in 2011. Sonia and her husband Abdul had fled India in 2016 along with their daughter. Abdul Rashid, who hails from Kasaragod, was earlier named by the NIA as the ‘mastermind’ behind several Keralites fleeing the country to join the IS. He, however, was killed in a missile strike, after which Sonia surrendered. 

Sonia’s father had moved the Supreme Court saying that the Union government was not taking active steps to bring her back to India, and sought their extradition. 

According to LiveLaw, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao asked the Union government its response. The apex court has given the Union government eight weeks and has also allowed Sonia’s father Sebastian to move the Kerala High Court in case he is not happy with the response of the Union government. 

Other than Ayisha, two more women — Nimisha alias Fathima, and Rafaela — were among around 14,000 IS fighters who surrendered before the Afghanistan government in 2019. 

In an interview in March 2020 to StartNewsGlobal Sonia had said that she wanted to return to India to her husband’s family as her husband had been killed in a drone strike.

Claiming she does not want to associate with the IS anymore, she said,“I came to Khorasan in 2016. I accompanied my husband and once we reached here, many things we saw were not up to our expectations. We came here expecting an Islamic life, to live under Islamic law, but many things were not up to our expectations, be it the salah in the masjid... or... many different things. So this was kind of a disappointment. And so I’m assuming many people are coming with the same expectations but that’s not what the reality is. I would suggest everybody rethink their decisions and think carefully before doing anything.”

Rashid’s second wife Yasmin had stayed back in India and was arrested while trying to recruit more people to join IS. She was nabbed in 2016 while trying to board a flight from Delhi, and in March 2018, the NIA special court in Kochi sentenced Yasmin to 7 years of imprisonment.

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