Want her to be punished: Mother of Bengal girl arrested in Dhaka on terror charges

On Friday, Pragya, who is now Ayesha Jannat Mohona and an alleged member of the terror group Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), was arrested in Dhaka.

Published: 19th July 2020 09:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th July 2020 09:32 PM   |  A+A-

Ayesha Jannat Mohona alias Pragya Debnath (Photo |


DHANIAKHALI: Hair tied back in a neat bun, she cycled every morning to college-ready with a smile and a greeting every time she came across a known face -- this is how the people of Dhaniakhali remember Pragya Debnath.

But that was four years ago.

On Friday, Pragya, who is now Ayesha Jannat Mohona and an alleged member of the terror group Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), was arrested in Dhaka.

Her mother remembers clearly the day her daughter left home never to return again.

One morning ahead of the Durga Puja in 2016, Pragya left home in this small town in West Bengal's Hooghly district, saying she was going out to run errands.

"It was September 25, 2016. She went out in the morning, which was usual. A few hours later when we called her, the mobile was switched off. We searched frantically but Pragya was nowhere. Finally, we went to the police and lodged a complaint," her mother, Geeta, told PTI on Sunday.

Two days later, Geeta said, she received a call from her daughter.

"Pragya called me around noon and told me she is in Bangladesh and has embraced Islam," she said as tears rolled her eyes.

"She sought my blessings and said this was the last time she was speaking to us and abruptly hung up. The number has been unreachable ever since," the 50-year-old mother said.

Pragya, now 25, was a third-year undergraduate student in Dhaniakhali College when she went missing.

Her neighbours said she did not have many friends and was shy in nature but never did they think that she could become a terrorist.

"She was a simple college-going girl who would always smile when she met people on the road," Sushil Bera, a neighbour, said.

Geeta said her daughter would cycle a kilometre to the college every morning and return by afternoon, and there was nothing unusual in her behaviour.

Pragya's father is a daily wage labourer.

"I had no inkling what was going on with her. She was absolutely normal," the mother said.

Pragya was arrested by the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the police and charged with recruiting people for terror activities and raising funds, among others.

Geeta, who thought she won't ever see her daughter again, said she came to know about the arrest from the local media, which flashed the name of the girl from Dhaniakhali, better known for cotton sarees, with "terrorist" affixed to it.

"I want her to be punished as per law," she said as she broke down.


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