A young Kashmiri footballer who joined the militants over a week ago has surrendered, Army sources said on Friday. But the Jammu and Kashmir Police insisted that Majid Khan had neither surrendered nor had he been caught yet.
The Army sources said Majid Khan, 20, surrendered after walking into a Rashtriya Rifles camp at Kulgam on Thursday evening. He came with his arms and ammunition.
"He was handed over to Victor Force headquarters in Awantipora town," the sources said.
The head of the Victor Force, who supervises all anti-militancy operations of the Army in south Kashmir areas, would hold a press conference at 4 p.m. on Friday.
There was a sense of relief among Majid's friends and relatives when they learnt about his safe return.
"It is great to hear that he would be now serving his parents and pursuing his passion about football," said a relative who did not wish to be named.
The relative said Majid was the only son of his parents, who were shocked when they came to know that he had joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: "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."
I understand the predicament of young boys who have strayed into militancy. Most realise the futility of senseless violence & want to return home and live normal lives with dignity.— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 17, 2017
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.— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 17, 2017
My government is committed towards a rehabilitation policy that secures their future and ensures that they are not harassed .— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 17, 2017
The police, however, said Majid had only contacted his family expressing a wish to return home.
Former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said: "If that's true (that Majid has surrendered), then it's a very good development. Hope he can go back to leading a normal life and not be harassed."
Kashmir Valley police chief Munir Khan, however, dismissed reports that Majid had surrendered.
"He has neither been apprehended nor has he surrendered yet. But he has contacted his family and wants to come back.
"He should certainly come back. Let's hope he returns," he added.
Majid, belonging to Anantnag town, left home to join the LeT, triggering panic in his family. His mother then made passionate appeals to him to shun the path of violence and return.
Reports said his father, Irshad Khan, suffered a heart attack when news spread about Majid being trapped in a gunfight with security forces.
On Thursday, police officer Khan reiterated his appeal to local militants to shun violence and resume normal life by joining their families.