Manan Bashir Wani, said to be in his mid-twenties, was seen holding what appeared to be an AK assault rifle in photos that went viral on social media on Sunday. A day later, the Hizbul Mujahideen confirmed that he had joined them.
"It is a negation to India's propaganda that youth are joining militant ranks because of unemployment and economic problems. Educated youth are are joining Hizb to take the freedom movement forward" said a statement by the chief of the banned outfit, Syed Salahuddin.
Manan Wani left the university in Uttar Pradesh a few days back and should have arrived at his home in Kupwara district's Lolab Valley three days ago, but he never showed up. His phone was off. Then the chilling photo surfaced on Sunday afternoon.
Soon, women of the family and the neighbourhood had gathered at the Wani home in Tikkipora, sobbing and wailing.
"My Manan... your mother is crying, please come back. Come and see the condition of your sister. Come back for the sake of your sister Asifa. You always stood by her," wept Manan Wani's mother Shameema.
He has now been expelled by the university.
The police said yesterday that they could not rely on a photograph to conclude that Manan Wani had joined the terror group. "At this state I can only say that things are still under verification. The authenticity of the photograph and other aspects are still being verified," said Munir Khan, senior police officer.
The police traced Manan's movement to Delhi on Wednesday last; he allegedly stayed a night with a friend.
More than 100 young Kashmiri men are believed to have joined militancy last year. But in the last few months, at least 10 gave up terror after footballer Majid Khan returned home, responding to an emotional appeal by his mother that went viral.
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