According to The Times of India, the drive first began in “certain areas” in Kasaragod district; however, it was expanded across the state with a number of agencies scouting social media to identify “vulnerable Malayali youth”. The list contained 350 names.
All districts except Pathanamthitta reported footprints of recruiters who had “made more than preliminary contacts with them”, said the daily.
Henceforth, a special task force was constituted by the Kerala intelligence sleuths which also had personnel from National Investigation Agency and Intelligence Bureau.
“Kannur district topped with 118 names followed by Malappuram (89) and Kasaragod (66),” a top source told the daily.
While Kozhikode reported 25 youth with “deep interest”, Palakkad had 16. “It was single digit for the rest. And there was not even one girl in this list of 350,” he added.
Kerala’s intelligence chief BS Mohammed Yasin, while confirming the campaign, said: “All are in the twenties. Many are pursuing engineering and medicine. We can’t say even one of them was illiterate.”
The team first came in touch with community elders and parents of these youth. “The response was very positive. But for their support, we wouldn’t have been possible to roll out this campaign,” he said.
Individual as well as collective counselling sessions, handled by specially-trained NIA and IB personnel, were conducted for the youth.
In the first phase of `Operation Pigeon`, a number of youngsters realised that “the route was not as easy as they were made to believe”. However, around 30 of them were still firm. “We continued to engage them without ruffling any feelings”, sources told the daily.
A senior officer noted that not even a single parent or one mosque committee objected to police’s frequent visits during the campaign.