SRINAGAR: After a compassionate appeal by his mother urging him to return home, coupled by mild heart attack to his father, 20-year-old south Kashmir footballer Majid Khan surrendered before security forces a week after taking up arms and joining Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Sources said Majid, whose picture with an AK-47 rifle and ammunition pouch went viral last Friday, surrendered before an Army camp in south Kashmir last evening.
They said before surrendering, he had contacted his family.
“He surrendered before the Army last evening. However, he was not carrying any weapon or ammunition,” sources said.
General Officer Commanding (GoC) of Victor Force, Major General B S Raju paid compliments to Majid’s mother for displaying courage to appeal her son to return.
“She has been successful. The parents have sent a strong message and that message has made a difference on the impressionable mind of Majid to get back to the national mainstream,” he said.
After Majid joined militancy, his mother made an impassionate appeal for him to return.
“Come back...come back and kill us (parents) then go back. Whom you left me with? Majid come fast for the sake of your ailing father, who is suffering from blood pressure,” Majid’s mother, Ayesha Khan says in a heart wrenching video that went viral in Kashmir.
His father suffered a mild cardiac attack on Tuesday.
Majid was nick-named Ben Stokes for his resemblance to the English allrounder.
GoC Victor Force termed Majid’s case as “unique” saying, “We will take care of him.”
On whether they would carry questioning him, he said, “Since he joined militancy a week back, we are not expecting any information from him and want him to live a normal life.”
On whether, he would join his family, Raju said he had made initial contact with his family.
The Army official appealed local militants to give up militancy and return to join the mainstream.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Muneer Khan said good sense prevailed on Majid and he made a brave decision.
“Neither has he surrendered nor has he been apprehended. He has returned to the family on his own. He went on his own and returned on his own,” he said.
The IGP said his mother, father, friends and family members were instrumental in bringing him back.
Maintaining that there was no change in their policy, he said youth who had treaded the wrong path should come back and join mainstream.
“We will welcome them with open arms as we have practically shown in this case and in previous cases,” he said. “We want them to live in respect in society and join their families.”
The IGP said, “I again appeal all local militants to return and join their families so that peace is restored.”
He said rehabilitation of surrendered militants was possible in an effective manner.
“They are part of this society and have every right to live with dignity,” Khan said.
Reacting to his son giving up militancy, Majid’s father, Irshad Ahmad Khan said he has got a new lease of life.
“I thank all those who appealed him to return,” said Irshad.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti credited mother's love for the surrender of footballer-turned-militant.
"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," she tweeted.
In another tweet, she said, "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 said the choice to return home for the young militants was not easy one because they find themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea. “The fear of social stigma clouds their judgement.”
“My government is committed towards a rehabilitation policy that secures their future and ensures that they are not harassed,” she said.
Meanwhile, Lashkar-e-Toiba chief, Mahmood Shah, in an emailed statement said Majid was permitted to leave for his home on the request of his mother since he was the only guarantor to his household.
“We respected the mother's call,” he said.
He claimed that Lashkar has never sought violence or “barbarism and this development is enough evidence to this claim.”
He alleged that Majid’s family was threatened by Indian forces and later his mother requested him to return.