Missing MBA student becomes 111th youth to join militant ranks this year
Srinagar, July 29: A 26-year-old MBA student from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, who had gone missing a week before, announced his joining of militant ranks on social media on Saturday.
The youth, identified as Ishfaq Ahmad Wani, son of Mohammad Yousuf Wani of Koil village in Pulwama, has joined militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba under the soubriquet of Abu Turab.
He was an MBA student and had come home during the holiday. However, he had gone missing from last one week, reports said.
His picture brandishing an assault rifle has gone viral on social media.
Ishfaq went missing on July 22. The family on the very next day filed a missing report with the concerned police station.
However, his family has made appeals to him asking him to return home.
Local youths joining militant groups in the Kashmir this year stood at 110 till July 15, with the worst militancy-hit district of Shopian in south Kashmir accounting for the maximum of 28 recruits, officials said.
The number of locals recruited was 126 last year and officials said they expected the figure to be higher this year.
Reports of missing people have come down after Governor’s rule was imposed in the state last month, they said, but added that some youths continue to join militant ranks.
Security agency officials said highly volatile south Kashmir, comprising Shopian, Pulwama, Anantnag and Kulgam districts, besides Awantipora, remained a region accounting for a higher number of youths joining militant groups including Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
From these five areas, 91 youths joined various militant groups operating in the Valley, they said.
The disappearance and subsequent joining of militant ranks by Ganderbal youth Rouf, who was in his fourth semester of a diploma course at a government polytechnic institute, was confirmed after his picture was seen on social media in military fatigues, the officials said.
If this trend continues, 2018 may end up as the year with highest number of youths joining various militant groups, according to the officials.
In 2017, a total of 126 youths had picked up the gun. It was the highest number since 2010, according to a recent data presented in the state Assembly and Parliament.
There has been a steady rise in the number of youths taking up arms in the Valley since 2014 as compared to the period from 2010 to 2013 when the figures stood at 54, 23, 21 and 6 respectively.
In 2014, the number shot up to 53 and in 2015, it reached 66 while in 2016, the figure was 88, the data showed.
This year, youths who joined militancy included Junaid Ashraf Sehrai, 26, an MBA degree holder from Kashmir University, and son of Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai, who took over as chairman of the Tehrek-e-Hurriyat from Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
The list also included 26-year-old Ph.D. scholar Mannan Bashir Wani, hailing from Kupwara, the officials said. Wani was studying in Aligarh Muslim University.
They said infiltration was on the rise and some of the militants had managed to sneak into the Valley from across the border in Poonch and Rajouri districts of the Jammu region as well as through the LoC in Kashmir. (With inputs from PTI)