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Family appeals Ehtesham to shun militancy, return home

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Omar worried about reports claiming Kashmiri student joined militant ranks

Srinagar: The distressed family of missing Sharda University student Ehtesham Bilal has appealed him to shun militancy and return home, a day after his purported photograph posing as IS militant surfaced on social media.

Ehtesham, a resident of Khanyar area of downtown Srinagar, went missing on October 28 after he left the varsity with official permission to go to Delhi, days after he was mistakenly roughed up during a scuffle between Indian and Afghan students in the campus.

On Friday evening, a gun-wielding picture of Ehtesham along with a purported audio message surfaced on social media which immediately went viral.

In the purported audio message, Ehtesham pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

“I have heard your audio message. I am worried and shocked. You talk about Islam and Iman but you forget that the heaven, according to Islam, lies under the feet of mother, and father is the door to heaven,” said Ehtesham’s father Bilal while addressing his son. “Islam warns against disobedience to your parents”.

“Please return to your family, especially your mother who is ailing. She hasn’t eaten anything since you went missing. I am also a heart patient,” he said.

In his plea to the militants, Bilal said: “My son is young and naive. For God’s sake send him home. Have mercy on us, Allah will bless you. This is an appeal from a helpless father.”

Ehtesham’s young sister, Hadiqa is inconsolable since he went missing. “What will mother do [in your absence],” she says while appealing her brother with folded hands to come home.

Meanwhile, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said on Saturday that reports claiming a Kashmiri student of a private university joined militant ranks in the Valley were “hugely worrying”.

“If this is genuine (social media post about Sofi joining militant ranks), it’s hugely worrying. Sometimes seemingly small actions have huge consequences (sic),” Abdullah wrote on Twitter.

Sofi went missing on October 28 after he left the varsity with official permission to go to Delhi, days after he was mistakenly roughed up during a scuffle between Indian and Afghan students in the campus.

A missing complaint was registered in the case at the Knowledge Park police station in Greater Noida as well as at the Khanyar police station in Srinagar, officials said.

The pictures on social media showed Sofi dressed in a black outfit and claimed he had joined militant group ISJK, an outfit influenced by ISIS ideology.

“If what happened to him at #ShardaUniversity has lead him to choose such a destructive path it’s even more tragic. One more life on the path to ruin & one more family in turmoil (sic),” Abdullah tweeted.

Earlier, social media posts carrying purported pictures of him claimed that he had joined militant ranks in the Valley.

He went missing on October 28 after he left the varsity with official permission to go to Delhi, days after he was mistakenly roughed up during a scuffle between Indian and Afghan students in the campus.

The pictures on social media showed Sofi dressed in a black outfit and claimed he had joined militant group ISJK, an outfit influenced by ISIS ideology.

The UP Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) said it has been tracking the case since October 28 and has taken cognisance of the photos.

“We are in touch with Jammu and Kashmir police. We are tracking the footprints of the boy from Greater Noida to Kashmir,” Inspector General, ATS, Asim Arun told PTI.

The Jammu and Kashmir police said they were “ascertaining” Sofi’s presence in the Valley.

The Gautam Buddh Nagar police, who had traced the last location of Sofi’s mobile phone to militancy-hit Pulwama district in South Kashmir, is also probing the matter.

“A missing complaint was registered and police teams are working on the case,” a senior official told PTI.

According to the police here, Sofi had left for Srinagar from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport in the afternoon of October 28 and reached Pulwama a few hours later.

They said his mobile phone details showed that he last spoke to his father, who lives in Srinagar, at 4.30 pm, when his location was traced to Pulwama.

However, he had told his father that he was is Delhi and was returning to the university by metro, the police said.

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