Fa­ther of mil­i­tant thanks govt for son’s re­turn

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation - NEW DELHI/ANANT­NAG

Fa­ther of Anant­nag’s star foot­baller Ma­jid Khan, who made head­lines re­cently by join­ing the Lashkar-eTayyaba and then re­turn­ing home in less than a month, cour­tesy his mother’s tear­ful ap­peal to him in a vi­ral video on so­cial me­dia, has pro­fusely thanked the gov­ern­ment of Jammu and Kash­mir and the lo­cal and na­tional me­dia for treat­ing his son’s case on hu­man­i­tar­ian grounds and fa­cil­i­tat­ing his sur­ren­der.

In an ex­clu­sive tele­phonic in­ter­view with The Sun­day Guardian, Ir­shad Ahmed Khan, a gov­ern­ment ser­vant, said he was obliged to the me­dia for cov­er­ing the case com­pas­sion­ately. “Many thanks to all the peo­ple who have played a role in Ma­jid’s re­turn. I am grate­ful to the me­dia and the news­pa­pers for their fair reportage. I thank the gov­ern­ment,” Ir­shad Khan told this re­porter.

He said he had no prior knowl­edge of Ma­jid’s de­ci­sion to join the LeT. “When we heard that he had joined the mil­i­tant ranks, we were dev­as­tated. We are very happy that he de­cided to sur­ren­der. I im­me­di­ately con­tacted the au­thor­i­ties to al­low me to meet him,” Ir­shad Khan said. “Be­fore that,” he de­tailed, “I had lodged an FIR in the po­lice sta­tion. The po­lice said they will try to bring him back, and they asked me to make ef­forts from my end also.” When asked what was dis­cussed be­tween the fa­ther and son when he went to meet Ma­jid, Ir­shad Khan said he had only five min­utes’ con­ver­sa­tion with the 20-year-old. “He is in de­ten­tion. I met him a cou­ple of days ago. I did not get time to find out how he was led into join­ing the mil­i­tant ranks,” Ir­shad Khan told this news­pa­per. Responding to this re­porter’s query on what might have pushed Ma­jid into mil­i­tancy, the fa­ther said he sus­pected some friends might have in­flu­enced his son, al­though their fam­ily has al­ways fo­cused on the education of their chil­dren and had no past record of be­ing de­tained or par­tic­i­pat­ing in any kind of protests. “He is young and gullible. I don’t know what in­cited him. We are sus­pect­ing that his friends might have played a role and got him in touch with LeT’s over­ground work­ers,” he ex­plained.

This re­porter had gone to Ma­jid’s house in Anant­nag last week, when he was still on the run, but his fam­ily was not trace­able. A close rel­a­tive of the fam­ily had told this re­porter at the time, “All of us are shocked by his de­ci­sion. He was very po­lite and was never in­volved in any stone­pelt­ing or any other such in­ci­dents.” On re­cur­ring in­ci­dents of stone pelt­ing in South Kash­mir, Ir­shad Khan said: “What can I say? This is the hand­i­work of the (sep­a­ratist) lead­ers. Ma­jid never showed any signs of sim­mer­ing anger in him.” He said he hoped that his son would be freed soon. “The po­lice did a press con­fer­ence and said that they have not got any case against Ma­jid as yet. We are look­ing for­ward to his speedy re­lease,” Ir­shad Khan said. Ma­jid, a stu­dent of BA Hon­ours in Com­merce at De­gree Col­lege, Anant­nag, had de­clared on Face­book on 29 Oc­to­ber that he had joined the mil­i­tant ranks, bran­dish­ing an AK-47 ri­fle. The Cen­tre has told the Me­hbooba Mufti led PDP gov­ern­ment in Jammu and Kash­mir, of which the BJP is a part, that it has no im­me­di­ate plans to talk to the sep­a­ratists in the val­ley or with Pak­istan. Sources told The Sun­day Guardian that the Cen­tre has fur­ther ap­prised the state gov­ern­ment that the peace-build­ing process would be an in­ter­nal ex­er­cise that would fo­cus on with­drawal of crim­i­nal com­plaints against teenagers, gen­er­at­ing em­ploy­ment for the youth, and the re­lease of youths who have been in­car­cer­ated for stone pelt­ing or other forms of protests.

Sources said that the Cen­tre fi­nalised this strat­egy, aimed at end­ing alien­ation, after re­ceiv­ing rel­e­vant in­puts from the in­tel­li­gence agen­cies. To wean away the youths from anti-state protests, the Cen­tre has di­rected all re­cruit­ing agen­cies in J&K to fill up va­cant posts within three months, a se­nior civil ser­vant in the state gov­ern­ment re­vealed to this news­pa­per.

“We have al­ready com­pleted the process of fill­ing up 6,000 posts and by the end of De­cem­ber we ex­pect to com­plete the process for 5,000 more posts,” the of­fi­cial quoted said. The state gov­ern­ment is also screen­ing the cases of first time of­fend­ers in stone-pelt­ing in­ci­dents from 2015 till the third week of Novem­ber 2017. The screen­ing com­mit­tees have been told to sub­mit their rec­om­men­da­tions within 10 days. How­ever, it is not cer­tain whether the gov­ern­ment would act on the rec­om­men­da­tions of the com­mit­tee and with­draw cases against such of­fend­ers whom the com­mit­tee says can be re­lieved. The Union Home Min­istry has de­cided to fo­cus on the state po­lice and ad­dress their prob­lems. Re­lief pro­vided to J&K po­lice per­son­nel has been raised to Rs 10 lakh, at par with CRPF jawans. The com­pen­sa­tion for SPOs, who are on the fore­front in anti-mil­i­tancy op­er­a­tions, has been raised to Rs 5lakh.

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