Published: 14th November 2017
After Kashmiri youth quits college for the LeT, his friends celebrate the radicalisation of a 'studious, socially-conscious football hero'
Majid Khan's family is distraught after a video of him being initiated into the LeT went viral, but his friends have been lauding the decision on Facebook
A house in Anantnag rings with shrill, grief-stricken cries and shock, flocked by villagers and locals comforting a wailing mother while the men consult each other on the why's, what's and when.
The Khans' only son, a rising star, a studious name on the school list and an emergency head at an NGO doing humanitarian work, has joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Plenty of his friends have celebrated the move and hailed him as a hero of sorts on Facebook while his tearful family is hoping that he will return.
Long gone: Majid (left) is remembered as someone who lived for others, was compassionate and brimming with talent | Sheezan Khursheed/ Facebook
Majid Khan (20), now radicalised and named Abu Ishmayeel, was a second-year Commerce student at the Government Boy's Degree College here before he dropped everything — his prospects, a future and to their utmost shock, his family, to take up arms in the name of a free Kashmir on Thursday. Local belief is that his decision was cemented after his close friend, Yawar Nisaar, joined the Hizbul Mujahideen in July but was killed in an encounter with security forces in early August this year. They also allege that he was brainwashed and radicalised.
Majid was a promising footballer and was part of clubs for that and cricket which he had joined at a young age, and from what locals and others remember of him there was no better goalkeeper in all of Anantnag. His two married sisters, who returned to their parents' home after hearing the news express their disbelief at their scholarly, smart young brother, who had done very well in class 10 and 12 exams, turning into a militant.
These wails belong to Majid's mother, to whom her son's loss brings with it a lifetime of sadness and trauma
"He was a good boy, a great footballer. We are all worried about him, nobody wants to hear about a young boy from their village being killed in an encounter. Nobody wants that," says a source close to the Khan family. He also expresses remorse and disbelief at the rate with which radicalisation is gaining momentum. "Here, radicalisation has become the next big thing. You never know when or where someone can suddenly turn," he laments.
Majid's father, who 'reportedly" suffered a weak heart shortly after the news broke is devastated. His whole family is very upset, the source says, adding that it is but inevitable to feel so when your child is taken away to join something like this.
Ironically, he was also the emergency head at Mother Helpage, Kashmir. When contacted, an official at the NGO said that he had been a volunteer with them for a while, "We have handed over all his records to the Anantnag Police so all other details will only be available with them," he said curtly.
However, while Majid's parents and family try to reach out to him, others rejoice in what is essentially an entire town's misery. Majid's friends have already spread the news, with videos of him holding a rifle and pledging his allegiance to LeT doing the rounds on Facebook — one has even garnered 727 shares. The captions are words of encouragement for picking up arms to defend and "Free Kashmir", while many of the comments read "Alla Hefazat Kare", while one even says "please don't upload bhai".
While the heart-wrenching video of Majid's mother Ayesha Khan being restrained by over five women in a dark room while she wails inconsolably is going viral, it brings to the fore the question of safety and the lack of attention given to local youngsters in Kashmir. According to police reports, at least 170 militants; both foreign and local, were killed this year while a local paper reported that 41 youth embraced militancy between July to September this year.