Anantnag: A youth who was fast turning into a poster boy of militancy after his pictures took social media by storm decided to shun the path of violence and return to the mainstream. This has happened for the first time since a renewed phase of insurgency hit the Kashmir valley. Majid Irshad Khan, an ace footballer ‘surrendered’ before the Army, nine days after he disappeared from his home and joined the militant outfit Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT).
The return of Majid is seen as a victory for government forces and the parents of Majid, who had made emotional appeals to the 20-year-old ace footballer, to return home.
“We wish the same happiness for every parent whose sons have disappeared or become militants,” Aisha Begam, Majid’s mother told Firstpost. “He is our only hope for our old age. I am happy he will be back soon in his home.”
In Anantnag district, senior police officers and the people saw Majid as someone who could play the role of a pied piper and could lure the youth towards militancy.
General Officer Commanding of Victor Forces, which oversees the operation of Indian Army in south Kashmir, BS Raju said that he would like to compliment the parents of Majid, especially his mother, whose appeal and prayers yielded results and the people who supported the movement for getting the youth back.
“Most importantly, I would like to compliment the brave boy (Majid) who decided to shun the path of violence and get back to the mainstream,” Raju said, while addressing a press conference inside the Victor Forces headquarters in Awantipora.
Majid was produced in the press conference, and was seen wearing a black Kashmiri pheran. He was whisked away in a couple of minutes after being brought to the conference room.
“In the evening hours, we got the information that this individual wants to come back. What we needed was that this individual be safely brought in. It was a brave decision taken by this individual,” Raju, General officer Commanding, said while addressing a press conference.
“The decision to come back was of his own…he deserves compliments. We want to assure that there will be no charges pressed against him. He will be able to go back to his normal life soon,” he added.
Outside a local mosque in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, Majid’s father told Firstpost that he had no words to express his happiness, after he heard the news that his son was going to come back home.
“We are very happy that he came back and we want to thank the people who helped and played a role in getting him back. We are old people and have no one expect him. I got a heart attack recently; I don’t know how I survived. I am thankful to everyone who played a role in his return, and also the football players who prayed for his return,” Irshad Ahmad Khan, father of Majid, said outside a mosque near his home in Sadiqabad locality of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
The Army said on Friday that Majid, a footballer, has decided to return home and that the Army merely facilitated his decision.
Kashmir police chief Munir Khan, said that Majid would be straightaway allowed to join his family. Khan added that no weapon was recovered from the footballer and he was hoping he would soon join his friends and live a normal life.
The police is promising a comprehensive rehabilitation policy to ensure the safety of those who want to shun the path of violence and return to the mainstream.
On Wednesday, the forces arrested three militants, one of whom was hit by a bullet and was taken to a hospital. The police expects the surrender of militants will have an impact on other militants and will reassure their families of the police’s commitment to save local militants, if they give up.
Khan said the recruitment to militancy was higher in south Kashmir as there are more local militants and they wield a lot of influence when it comes to recruitment. He said when the relatives of the militants would see the arrested boys, they would realize that security agencies were genuinely trying to save their lives.
Omar Abdullah, the National Conference working president and former Chief Minister said that he hopes Majid could lead a normal life and would “not be harassed”.
“If that’s true then it’s a very good development. Hope he can go back to leading a normal life and not be harassed,” Abdullah tweeted while reacting on a report of the surrender of the footballer-turned-militant.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that ‘mother’s love’ prevailed and forced the footballer-turned-militant Majid to return to his family.
“A mother’s love prevailed. Her impassioned appeal helped in getting Majid, an aspiring footballer back home. Every time a youngster resorts to violence, it is his family which suffers the most,” tweeted Mehbooba.
“I understand the predicament of young boys who have strayed into militancy. Most realise the futility of senseless violence and want to return home and live normal lives with dignity,” Mehbooba wrote in another tweet.
“But the choice to renounce violence is not an easy one and they find themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea. The fear of social stigma clouds their judgement,” she further wrote.
A statement from the Lashkar-e-Taiba said that Khan was allowed to go home on the request of his mother, since he was the only guarantor to his household. “The freedom struggle of Kashmir is being brought up by the sacrifices of the whole nation and if one mother calls upon her son to return to her, we will respect her decision,” the statement said. However, the LeT claimed that Majid Irshad Khan’s household was ‘threatened to death’ by Indian security forces, after which her mother asked her son to return.