A research scholar at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) missing for several days and said to have joined militant group Hizbul Mujahideen had months before recounted on social media how he was mocked and harassed by government forces in Kashmir.
A photograph of Mannan Bashir Wani, holding what appeared to be an automatic assault rifle, had gone viral on social media on Sunday. According to the photograph’s caption, Wani joined the militant group on January 5 and his code name is Hamzah Bhai.
The AMU student “was pushed to militancy by an event last year when he was harassed by armed forces on his way to Srinagar,” a news18.com report quoted a close friend of Mannan as saying.
“He was rattled by that incident. He shared with me how he was harassed, but I never knew Mannan will take such an extreme step,” the friend said.
The incident the friend was talking about reportedly took place in November 2017 when Wani, on way to Srinagar from his home in Kupwara, was “harassed” by the armed forces, according to the report.
A day later, Wani himself recounted the incident on Facebook, saying the vehicle he was travelling in was stopped four times by forces and he had to get down and prove his identity every time.
“The most disgusting thing was when an ordinary SOG personnel donning black uniform posed questions like ‘why had I grown such long hair, why didn’t I trim my beard if intend to look smart, why do I wear long boots, why do I wear a shawl in such a young age? (sic)” Wani wrote.
Wani further wrote how an army officer mocked him for his “resemblance” with a militant commander.
“On this disgusting day, the best moment happened when I got a compliment from the Indian Army officer (who also checked my identity card, but spared me from getting down from the car) about my looks resembling the famous Commander, who has given them sleepless nights, and me passing a gentle smile without uttering a single word (sic),” he wrote.
A local news agency quoted official sources as saying that 26-year-old Wani son of Bashir Ahmad Wani of Takipora village in Kupwara, was to return home three days ago.
“He was pursuing PhD in Geology at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). However, he didn’t report back home,” sources told the news agency.
Wani, who has an M Phil in Applied Geology, comes from a well-to-do family in the Lolab Valley. His father is reportedly a lecturer, while his brother works as a junior engineer in the government.
As per the information on AMU website, Wani was awarded the ‘Best Paper Presentation Award’ in an International Conference on ‘Water, Environment, Energy and Society’ (ICWEES) held at AISECT University, Bhopal, in 2016.
His friend said Wani was “a staunch supporter of human rights”.
Last year, he had travelled from Aligarh to Delhi to support a campaign for missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, who has not been seen since October 2016 after a clash with ABVP members.
In a blog post later, Wani had said: “I believe, protest March or Sit-ins are only successful when all forms of protest are made simultaneously by people in their own capacities. We can neither expect everyone to come on roads and walk three or four kilometers on foot or lay on ground for days nor can we expect everyone to write long pieces, but, we can at least expect it from everyone to remain protesting for any genuine cause, until the justice is not delivered, in any form which he/she deems suitable and possible.”
Police, meanwhile, said they are looking for Wani.
Senior Superintendent of Police Kupwara Shamsher Hussain said that the police had received a report from Wani’s family that they were unable to contact the PhD student and “yet there is no confirmation about his joining militancy.”
(Photo of Mannan shared by one of his friends on Facebook/ News18.com)