No Proof of ISIS Links, Says NIA on Man Accused of Trying To Sell Wife as Sex Slave

Muhammed Riyaz in his statement to NIA had rejected all charges of rape, blackmail and links to ISIS. He called it a case of a marriage gone sour.

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency has so far not found any evidence to suggest that Muhammed Riyaz, whose wife accused him of forcibly converting her to Islam and attempting to sell her as a sex slave, has any links with the Islamic State.

Top officials involved with the probe told CNN-News18 that prima facie, no evidence has been found, but said ISIS link will be investigated further. According to sources, the agency has also not found any evidence to link Riyaz to Kerala-based group Popular Front of India.

"We are not giving a clean chit to anyone. But while in the Hadiya case, it is beyond doubt that her husband Shafin Jahan was a PFI member, in this case we will have to probe deeper," an official said.

NIA had arrested Riyaz on February 3 from the Chennai airport after his return from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His wife, Akshara Bose, had alleged that he blackmailed her into converting to Islam using a recording of their sexual encounter and also pressured her into marrying him. She had also alleged that she was taken to Saudi Arabia, from where Riyaz tried to sell her off to ISIS terrorists.

"During interrogation, Riyaz accepted that he did videograph her but says it was with her consent. We have sent his laptop for forensic examination to verify the claim," an NIA officer said.

Two mobile phones, a laptop and a pen drive recovered from him have been sent to the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in Thiruvananthapuram for forensic examination. A second laptop, recovered on the instance of the accused, is also being examined, an official said.

An IG level officer of NIA had interrogated Riyaz last week. Nine other accused, including Riyaz's mother, his cousins and friends will be questioned next. Bose had alleged that Riyaz’s family had receive gifts in cash and kind for converting a non-Muslim.

The investigative agency said it would also re-examine the complainant to corroborate the versions of husband and wife. Sources said that preliminary investigation establishes that the complainant was unhappy with Riyaz because he forced her to adapt to Islamic prayers and dress code. The marriage was also strained because of financial issues, they said.

Riyaz in his statement to NIA had rejected all charges of rape, blackmail and links to ISIS. He called it a case of a marriage gone sour. "We will examine all aspects. If only a case of rape and other sections of IPC are made out we will inform the court," an officer said.

A native of the Kannur district in Kerala, Riyaz had met Bose at a Bengaluru college. While he has told NIA that they fell in love and got married, his wife accused him of luring and raping her. She alleged that Riyaz married her through deceit by forging documents, created a fake passport, illegally confined and threatened her in Kerala before taking her to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for joining ISIS.

During interrogation, NIA also learnt that Riyaz was forced to come back to India from Jeddah after his cousin and friends were arrested by Kerala Police, which had first registered the case lodged by his wife.