The police and army said Anantnag youth Majid Khan had paid heed to his family’s pleas and “shunned the path of violence” while militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba claimed he was sent home at his “mother’s request.”
Amid conflicting reports of whether he had surrendered or had been caught, the 20-year-old student and budding footballer was briefly presented before the media by top police and Army officers in Pulwama on Friday, a week after he stunned his family by joining militant ranks.
“The brave young man decided on his own to shun violence and returned to lead a normal life, pursuing his academics and passion for football,” Major General B.S. Raju said at a press conference.
“He was neither apprehended nor did he surrender. We only facilitated his return,” Gen Raju said, providing no details about how Majid made contact with the family or the security agencies.
The militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba claimed that Majid was “permitted to leave for his home at the request of his mother, since he was the only guarantor to his household.”
In a statement, Lashkar chief Mahmood Shah said the outfit has “never sought violence or barbarism”.
“The freedom struggle of Kashmir is being brought-up by the sacrifices of whole nation and if one mother calls upon his son to get back to her, we will respect her decision,” the statement quoted Shah as saying.
“But the world must witness the barbarism and violence imposed on the household of Majid Arshad Khan for the ‘crime’ of standing up against illegal Indian occupation,” Shah said, alleging that Majid’s family members were “threatened” by Indian forces, “in reaction to which his mother requested him to come back.”
“If, under any circumstances, Majid is martyred by police under the disguise of fake encounter, then the sons of the very police officers will bear severe consequences,” he said.
Majid did not speak and was quickly escorted out of the press conference by a police officer.
Gen Raju complimented his parents, especially the mother, whose persuasion he said helped the young man to change his mind.
Majid’s mother’s passionate and wailing appeal to her only son to return home went viral on social media — just like Majid’s earlier photographs showing him with an AK-47.
Gen Raju, who commands the Army’s Victor Force in southern Kashmir, urged other Kashmiri youths to also give up militancy.
“Those youths who have strayed and have committed no crime are welcome to come back and no action will be taken against them. I appeal also to those who might have committed some crime to return within the parameters of law.”
Inspector General of Police, Muneer Khan, said no charges would be pressed against Majid and he would be allowed to join his family.
News agency IANS quoting army sources had earlier said that Majid had surrendered after walking into a Rashtriya Rifles camp at Kulgam on Thursday evening
The sources added that he was handed over to Army’s 15 Corps in Awantipora town.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “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.”
The chief minister said that she understands the predicament of the youths who joined militancy, but the “fear of social stigma” clouds their judgement.
“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.
“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 said in a series of tweets.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said: “It is a very good development. Hope he can go back to leading a normal life and not be harassed.”