Pleas of a wailing mother and a passionate appeal from his father finally compelled college student and footballer Arshid Majid Khan to surrender before security agencies on Friday, barely days after he had joined the Lashkar-e-Tayiba terror outfit, officials said.
Twenty-year-old Khan walked into an army camp quietly after videos of his mother Ayesha and his father appealing to him to return home started circulating on social media.
Khan appeared before the army camp in the middle of the night and surrendered.
He was taken to the headquarters of Victor Force, an army unit engaged in countering militancy in South Kashmir, at Awantipura.
“He is with us and we will take care of him. We hope that this will encourage others who have not indulged in any heinous crime to surrender before the authorities,” Major General B S Raju told reporters at Awantipora.
The army officer felt that Khan’s return could turn into a test case for those who want to leave militancy and join the mainstream.
Khan, who is the only son of his parents, was allowed to meet his mother and father for a few hours separately after which he was kept at a room with all the amenities required for a student.
“Look, he is neither under arrest nor under any detention. We will decide on his future course after sometime. A bit of rehabilitation would do no harm,” Maj Gen Raju said.
His surrender was seen as a whiff of fresh air in tense South Kashmir which has witnessed large-scale recruitment of local youths by terrorists in the past. Unofficial estimates have put the figure of such youths at nearly 150 since July 2016.
“I request other mothers to make such appeals to their sons asking them to follow Khan’s footstep,” Director General of Police S P Vaid said.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that at the end “mother’s love has prevailed”.
In a couple of tweets, she said, “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.”
Mehbooba said she understands the predicament of the youths who have 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,” the chief minister said.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also termed the return of Khan as “good development” and expressed hope that he would resume his normal life soon.
Image: Majid Arshid, the footballer-turned militant, being presented before the media during a joint press conference at Awantipora in Pulwama district of south Kashmir. Photograph: S Irfan/PTI Photo