Domkal: The Anti-Terror Squad of Maharashtra has launched an inquiry into the disappearance of 27 Murshidabad-based pilgrims in Saudi Arabia's Jeddah. The probe was initiated after a Mumbai-based travel agent alerted the ATS that the pilgrims neither reached their hotel nor come back on their expected date of return. The ATS has also duly informed the centre about the missing persons.
Among the 27 people who left for Jeddah is 44-year-old Sekh Nuruzzaman, a resident of Murshidabad's Domkal, who was supposed to return on February 22. His travel agent says that while Nuruzzaman left for Haj Umrah but did not return.
"The Mumbai ATS called me and asked for information, which I shared. I have given them passport information, visa details, contact details of their team leader," says the travel agent to NDTV, on condition of anonymity.
But, interestingly, none of the local police stations in West Bengal's Murshidabad have any complaints regarding people going missing in Saudi Arabia.
Even Nuruzzaman's wife says that he is working in Jeddah and calls her regularly to check on his family.
"I don't know what he is doing there. The next time he calls, I will ask him and let you know. Whenever he calls, he tells me he is fine. I am sure he is not involved in anything illegal," she says.
Local police sources say that Murshidabad sends thousands of people to different parts of Saudi Arabia as labourers, many of whom never return.
"This is why there are no missing complaints," they say.
They also add that while pilgrims have been reported missing earlier, authorities nowadays treat these cases very seriously, with young men supposedly leaving the country to join terror outfits.
"The JMB from Bangladesh is emerging as a major recruiter for ISIS. The porous border is a nightmare for security agencies. Hence, there is a lot of focus on the case," says a local police officer.