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15 Kashmiri militants have returned home since Novermber 2017: DGP

 

JAMMU: At least 15 young Kashmiri militants have returned home respecting appeals from their families after footballer Majid Khan renounced insurgency last November on his mother’s request, said police in the militancy-hit state.

According to the director general of police Shesh Paul Vaid, the latest among these returnees this March were two young men who responded to their parents’ appeal to leave the path of violence.

“Some 15 boys have returned since Khan’s return. Every drop counts. Whatever little it is, their lives and their families are saved from getting ruined,” Vaid said on Tuesday.

“If a youngster agrees, he contacts his family and we are kept in the loop,” Vaid said. The identity of these returnees is kept the secret to keep them from harm’s way.

Kashmir has been recording sort of a trend in militants returning to their families after 20-year-old Khan, who had joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, left the organization on November 16 last year after his mother’s tearful plea to him to come back home in a video that was widely shared on social media.

A resident of Anantnag in south Kashmir, Khan was a bright student and a popular goalkeeper in the local team before he joined the LeT, which put his family and neighbors in considerable grief. The LeT said he was “permitted” to leave on his mother’s request.

Police believe the return of youngsters was having “some effect” on local militancy. “Obviously, as people come back, there is a possibility of the level of violence coming down,” Vaid said.

According to the DGP, there has been a “slight drop” in the number of Kashmiris joining militancy this year compared to 2017. “The reasons can be quite a few. One is that a lot of terrorists were killed, which acted as a deterrent, and another thing is that we are talking to families of youngsters. A lot of persuasions is going on,” he said.

Calling it a good trend, he cautioned that security agencies should not hype up such events for their “petty interests”. It needs to be seen whether they were actually persuaded by parents to leave militancy or were forced by security agencies to do so, he said.

“We witnessed in the past some families being harassed, forcing the young men to return,” he said.

Parvez, who is a project coordinator with the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, found an interesting aspect in the trend. “Youth are joining and leaving militancy. This means militants are allowing them to do so … and there is no pressure,” he said.

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