Aligarh Muslim University scholar Manaan Wani has joined the Hizbul Mujahideen, the group’s Pakistan-based chief Syed Salahuddin said in a statement to local media.
“Joining of Manaan Wani exposes the Indian propaganda that the youths of Kashmir are joining militant ranks due to unemployment and economic distress,” Salahuddin said in the statement to a Srinagar-based news gathering agency on Monday.
Wani, who belongs to Tikipora in Lolab area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, went missing last week. He was scheduled to return home from Delhi on January 6.
The 26-year-old scholar was on Monday expelled by AMU following reports that he may have joined the terror group after his photograph, showing him with an AK-47 rifle, appeared in social media.
“From years on, educated and qualified youths of Kashmir have been joining Hizbul Mujahideen to take this ongoing freedom movement to logical conclusion. This spirit of youths is laudable,” Salahuddin said, confirming that Wani had joined Hizbul Mujahideen, in the statement in Urdu.
Police had on Monday refused to deny or confirm the reports of Wani’s joining the terror group, saying they were investigating the photograph of him brandishing the rifle on social media sites.
Wani was a researcher in the Department of Geology at the Aligarh Muslim University, and last attended class on January 2, the university officials said.
WATCH: Family appeals Wani to return
IMAGE: Manaan Wani belongs to Tikipora in Lolab area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.