Kashmiri footballer Majid Khan leaves LeT after mother’s plea; no charges, says army
A 20-year-old Kashmiri man who had joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group surrendered after his mother launched a tearful appeal to him to return in a video widely shared on social media, police said on Friday.
A resident of Anantnag in south Kashmir, Majid Khan was a bright student and a popular football goalkeeper before he became LeT’s latest recruit in the Valley last week, triggering grief among family members and neighbours.
Khan, dressed in a black pheran (traditional Kashmiri overcoat) and a skull cap, was presented before the media at an army headquarters at Awantipora in south Kashmir. He reportedly took up arms after a close friend was killed in a shootout with security forces this year.
A photograph of Khan brandishing an AK 47 rifle was shared widely on social media last week, leaving his parents distraught. Hindustan Times was the first to report on his parents’ plight that was caught on a short video. “Majid, come back. Come back and kill your father and me, and then go back again,” the mother implored as a dozen women tried to console her.
Two local news agencies, GNS and KNS, quoted Mahmood Shah, a self-styled chief of LeT in Jammu and Kashmir, as saying that Khan was “permitted” to leave on the request of his mother.
Police said such surrenders have occurred in the past.
“But today, because of social media, the wailing of the mother is a thousand times more projected,” state police chief SP Vaid told Hindustan Times.
The army refused to give details of Khan’s return, with major general BS Raju only saying it had received intelligence that the man had told his family about his wish to come back.
“Majid had decided on his own to come back having realised the folly of the path he had taken,” Raju said, assuring that no charges were brought against the man, a second year commerce undergraduate.
Initially there was confusion over whether Khan was caught or had surrendered after an encounter. Police said it was neither.
“He has come back on his own. His parents and friends were instrumental in getting him back,” said inspector general of police, Kashmir range, Muneer Khan, who had said a day ago that the government was considering a new surrender policy for militants.
Last month, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had told the police to ensure the surrender of local militants.
Khan has two elder sisters who are married. He had made a name for himself as the goalkeeper of an Anantnag-based cricket and football club which he joined when he was in Class IX.
A cousin of Khan told Hindustan Times that he met his family on Friday. Khan’s father, Irshad Ahmed Khan — a government employee — told reporters in south Kashmir, “We had no support apart from Majid. He is our only son.
“I had a heart attack after news came that he has gone to join the militants. I am very happy with his return and want to thank everyone involved .”
Chief minister Mufti too welcomed Majid back.
“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.
Former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted: “If that’s true then it’s a very good development. Hope he can go back to leading a normal life & not be harassed.”