Srinagar: Days after he was spotted in a photo with an assault rifle by his heartbroken family in Kashmir, young football player Majid Khan has returned home.
- Majid Khan had joined Lashkar-e-Taiba a week ago
- In a video, his mother urged the 20-year-old to return home
- Police sources believe nearly 100 locals have joined terrorists last year
In a brief appearance before the media in striking black clothes this evening, he was held up by the army and the police as an example of young men "shunning violence" and re-embracing life.
"All local militants should follow on the footsteps of Majid Khan," said Major General BS Raju.
Majid will not be charged, the police said, informing that he planned to resume college and football.
A tearful video appeal by Majid's mother Ashiya Begum had gone viral on social media and thousands had urged the 20-year-old to quit militancy. "I am waiting for him. I want him to return... I want him to play football again," his mother had wept in the video. The 50-year-old said she had a meal for the first time today since her only son vanished last Thursday.
A goalkeeper for his local team in Anantnag in south Kashmir, Majid Khan had joined the terror group Lashkar e taiba eight days ago, apparently after his close friend was killed in an encounter. Sources say the group "sensed public mood and let go of Majid so he could serve his family".
Last night, after a phone call to his family, Majid walked into a security camp and turned himself in. "Neither did he surrender nor did we arrest him - he came on his own.. his mother and father and friends were instrumental in bringing him back," said top Kashmir police officer Munir Khan.
Earlier this week, a photograph surfaced on Whatsapp showing Majid with an assault rifle, much like Burhan Wani, the "Facebook Terrorist" known for posting his photographs on social media as part of his mission to recruit impressionable men in Kashmir. Wani's killing by security forces last year triggered more than six months of violent protests in the Valley.
Police sources believe around 100 local men have joined the ranks of terrorists in the last year.
Majid's shelf in his home is crammed with trophies; one award is from a tournament organised by the police.
His 59-year-old father Irshad Ahmad Khan suffered a mild heart attack on Tuesday after hearing that he had been trapped in an encounter in Kulgam. A terrorist was killed. The arrest of three local terrorists during the mop-up operations revived the family's hope.
"I'm sure he will come back if he hears this message. He is not just my son, he is my friend too... I don't understand why he did his," Mr Khan had said yesterday.
Messages flooded Twitter after news of his surrender emerged.
"A mothers 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," posted Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted that it was a "very good development. Hope he can go back to leading a normal life and not be harassed."