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Pleas of a wailing mother and passionate appeal from his father finally compelled college student and footballer Arshid Majid Khan to surrender before security agencies on Friday, barely days after he had joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit, officials said.
Twenty-year-old Khan walked into an Army camp quietly after videos of his mother Ayesha and his father appealing to him to return home started circulating on social media.
Khan appeared before the Army camp in the middle of the night and surrendered.
He was taken to the headquarters of Victor Force, an Army unit engaged in countering militancy in South Kashmir, at Awantipura, 33 kms from here.
"He is with us and we will take care of him. We hope that this will encourage others who have not indulged in any heinous crime to surrender before the authorities," Major General B S Raju told reporters at Awantipora.
The Army officer felt that Khan's return could turn into a test case for those who want to leave militancy and join the mainstream.
Khan, who is the only son of his parents, was allowed to meet his mother and father for a few hours separately after which he was kept at a room with all the amenities required for a student.
"Look, he is neither under arrest nor under any detention. We will decide on his future course after sometime. A bit of rehabilitation would do no harm," Maj Gen Raju said.
His surrender was seen as a whiff of fresh air in tense South Kashmir which has witnessed large-scale recruitment of local youths by militants in the past. Unofficial estimates have put the figure of such youths at nearly 150 since July 2016.
"I request other mothers to make such appeals to their sons asking them to follow Khan's footstep," Director General of Police S P Vaid told PTI over phone from Jammu.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that at the end "mother's love has prevailed".
In a series of tweets, she said:
A mothers 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.https://t.co/L3xHEAXxUK— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 17, 2017
I understand the predicament of young boys who have strayed into militancy. Most realise the futility of senseless violence & want to return home and live normal lives with dignity.— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 17, 2017
But the choice to renounce violence is not an easy one and they find themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea. The fear of social stigma clouds their judgement.— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 17, 2017
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also termed the return of Khan as "good development" and expressed hope that he would resume his normal life soon.
My government is committed towards a rehabilitation policy that secures their future and ensures that they are not harassed .— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 17, 2017