Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Kerala 21: #5 Merin Jacob alias Mariam

Name         : Merin Jacob
Alias          : Mariam
Provenance: Thammam, Kochi, Kerala.

Two Christian brothers, their wives, Islam and a bunch of unanswered questions

It was about a year ago that the families of 32-year old Bexen, his wife Nimisha, younger brother 24-year old Bestin and wife Merrin got to know about their conversion to Islam. None of the four however are likely to respond to these names anymore.

After conversion, Bexen, Bestin and Merrin, who were all born Christians, took the name Isa, Yahiya and Mirriam respectively while Nimisha, who was born into a Hindu Nair family in Thiruvananthapuram chose the name Fathima. Merrin and Bestin left home on May 15 for Sri Lanka to study Islam. Nimisha and Bexen followed suit three days later.

While Merrin has not maintained contact with her parents since then, Nimisha was in constant touch with her mother over WhatsApp.
It was over a year ago that Vincent and Elsi began to notice obvious changes in their sons’ attire and behaviour. According to them, Bexen and Bestin began to maintain long beards and wore trousers that did not quite come up to their ankles.

Concerned by the sudden transformation, the parents questioned the brothers. It was then Bexen and Bestin revealed that they had converted to Islam. “What could we have told them? They are both grown-up men. One fine day, they just got converted and married girls of their own choice,” said Elsi, their step-mother.
Bestin brought Merrin home unannounced, saying that she had also converted to Islam and that they were now married. “They said their ‘nikkahu’ was over, so we helped them register their marriages,” recalls Vincent who runs a home appliance shop in Palakkad.

Merin Jacob aka Mariam, who had gone missing with her husband Bestin Vincent aka Yahia, had departed to Tehran from Bengaluru airport on May 16 this year. Bestin, the younger brother, had moved to Ernakulam to pursue his Plus Two education. That’s where he and Merrin became a couple. Mini -Merrin’s mother- was aware of their relationship.

“We knew about the affair…she had told us. She also informed us about their break-up when Bestin converted to Islam. According to what she said, he did not contact her for three years, while she pursued her degree course. She got a job with a company in Mumbai last May. Till about four months into job, everything was normal,’ Mini reminisces.

Merrin used to share an apartment with a friend from college. When Ebin -her elder brother- went to Mumbai in search of a job, he found Merrin was a regular visitor to mosques and a Muslim couple’s home.

Bestin had also relocated to Mumbai and had eventually convinced Merrin to convert.

“When we insisted Ebin bring her back home at once, she did not object. Her friend later sent all her belongings and she never went back to Mumbai,” Mini adds.

'Questioned Christianity'

But her ‘odd behaviour’ persisted with her refusal to go to church, rejection of evening prayers and questions on the authenticity of Christianity.

“She would question me on many biblical verses, and insisted that St. Paul’s letters in the Bible were untrue. She once told me that Jesus is not the son of God,” Mini said.

Her family’s persistent efforts to reason with her were met with arguments. Sometimes when she was unable to answer her parent’s questions, she would lock herself in her room, contact the couple in Mumbai who constantly ‘brainwashed’ her and come back with counter-arguments. It was a couple of weeks before the Ramadan month began that the family last heard from Merrin. Merrin used to speak to her parents over phone on most days.

However, when she did not contact them for a few days, Mini tried calling her instead. But Merrin’s phone was switched off: “Then one day it did ring, but in vain.” Two weeks ago, Nimisha’s mother contacted Merrin’s family, worried over not being able to get in touch with Nimisha. However, both mothers are clueless about the whereabouts of their daughters, with Mini then not even aware of Merrin’s trip to Sri Lanka.

Regular visits to Kasargod

Mini recalls that Merrin used to make regular visits to Kasargod to meet Ayesha (Rashid’s wife and a convert herself): “Merrin had told me that converted girls like her would stay at Ayesha’s house in Kasargod.”
Jacob, the father of another missing woman, Merlin, said his daughter and Yahiya had studied together in a school in Kochi. “After graduation, my daughter got a job with IBM in Mumbai. During college, she was not in touch with Yahiya, who was then a Christian. Last year, after converting to Islam, he managed to track down her in Mumbai and converted her also,’’ he said. 

He said Merlin told him that they were going to Sri Lanka to address religious gatherings. “We discouraged them from going to Lanka. She was a brilliant girl. We thought she would not fall into any trap. We had warned her about this relationship. She was brainwashed. For the last three weeks, we have received no information about her,’’ he said.

'Ready to use a gun' 

KOCHI: Merin Jacob alias Mariam, the 22-yr-old Kochi girl who has been missing along with her husband Bestin Vincent alias Yahiya for over a month and is suspected to have joined the Islamic State, had told her brother Ebin after her conversion to Islam that she was ready to use a gun to protect her Muslim brethren. Ebin has mentioned this radical change he witnessed in his sister's character in 2014 in a statement he gave a week ago to police.

In his statement, Ebin also said that he had seen Kasaragod native Ashfaq Majeed in Mumbai along with Arshid Qureshi, a preacher with Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), in September 2014.Ashfaq is one of the 17 youths missing from Kasaragod. In an effort to convert Ebin, Bestin had taken him to Mumbai to meet Qureshi.

Ebin's statement reveals that a day after his arrival in Mumbai in September 2014, Bestin and his brother Bexan alias Eesa -also missing along with his pregnant wife Nimisha alias Fathima -had come to meet him. Throughout his stay in Mumbai with Merin, Ebin was allegedly forced by Bestin to embrace Islam. According to his statement, Bestin had told Ebin that Islam was the only right way and all non-Muslims are `kafirs' who must be eliminated.

Bestin took Ebin to Qureshi at a house in Andheri and introduced the latter as an employee of IRF. Qureshi took Ebin to the IRF library and delivered a lengthy sermon on Islam and the Quran and why Islam was superior to all other religions.

However, despite repea ted attempts, Ebin refused to embrace Islam and returned to Kochi. Ebin also says in his statement that he suspects his sister to have joined IS under the influence of Bestin and Qureshi.

It was based on Ebin's statement that Palarivattom police registered a case against Qureshi and Bestin under Section 13 of Unlawful Acti vities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and also booked them under Section 153 (A) of IPC.Qureshi, currently in police custody, was brought to Kochi on Sunday.

Missing Kerala Christian youth in Iran: police

The police now assume that many of the missing persons are currently in Tehran. The police team probing the missing of Keralite youths, including the three Christians who converted to Islam, from Kasaragod and Palakkad has confirmed that some of them had reached Tehran, the capital of Iran.

In an affidavit submitted before the Ernakulam District and Sessions Court, the police submitted that Merin Jacob aka Mariam, who had gone missing with her husband Bestin Vincent aka Yahia, had departed to Tehran from Bengaluru airport on May 16 this year. Bestin had gone missing with his brother Bexan aka Easa and wife Nimisha aka Fathima.





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