Srinagar/Lucknow/Bhopal: At a time when the Jammu and Kashmir is painstakingly trying to persuade the Kashmiri youth to shun violence and return to their homes for living a normal life, a Ph.D. student from the Valley who was studying in Aligarh Muslim University has joined the militants’ ranks.
The news that 26-year-old Mannan Bashir Wani who was pursuing a doctorate in earth science-geology in AMU has joined formidable indigenous militant outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahedin has not only shell shocked his family and friends, some of the security forces’ officials have privately admitted that it could leave an adverse impact on their effort to keep the local youth away from the influence of gun.
A resident of Takipora village in Lolab valley of frontier Kupwara district, Wani was to return home four days back. He had reportedly left AMU before commencement of winter vacation at the university on January 6. But instead of turning up at his native place, the photographs showing him with a grenade launcher-cum-assault rifle (possibly modified AK-47) reached the family through social media, the officials said. The photographs were uploaded on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp with the messages announcing that Wani has joined the Hizb. The Hizb has not confirmed it as yet.
The officials said that the police and other security forces have launched a manhunt for Wani. These officials also said that Wani’s family had also filed a missing report after he did not reach home. “He was expected to reach home in Kupwara three days ago but when he did not turn up his family reported the matter to the police,” said a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Earlier Kashmir’s police chief ADGP Munir Ahmed Khan had said that he cannot confirm whether Wani had indeed joined the Hizb. While expressing caution, he had said that the photos in question could be photoshopped.
Wani has joined the militants’ ranks at a time when the PDP-BJP government is trying hard to persuade the local youth who have taken to the gun to shun the path of violence and return home. Khan had on Sunday said that gun-wielding boys willing to quit militancy can now contact their families, return and start their lives afresh and that they “don’t need to necessarily surrender before the police.”
AMU authorities have expelled Wani in view of reports about his joining the Hizb ranks. “Wani stands suspended until further probe is carried out into his disappearance and into social media photos that show him holding an AK-47 rifle”, said AMU Proctor Prof. (Dr.) Mohd. Mohsin Khan.
The UP officials like their J&K counterparts are shocked to find that Wani has posted his photograph, holding an AK assault rifle, on the social media on Sunday. Senior police officials and intelligence agencies have reached Aligarh to investigate the matter.
SSP Aligarh Rajesh Pandey raided Wani’s room in Habib hall of the AMU and seized documents and literature from the room. “We will study what kind of literature has been found in the room”, he said.
Some university students attempted to protest against the police entering the hostel and one student was arrested.
The officials said that Wani had been studying at the AMU’s department of Geology for four-five years and had chosen to specialise in Applied Geology. He had enrolled in the university’s Ph.D. programme and won accolades for his paper on flood risk assessment in his home town Kupwara using remote sensing and GIS techniques.
While AMU officials were tight-lipped on the development, sources said on Monday that Wani had left AMU a few days back and had reached Delhi. He was said to be on his way to his home in Kupwara. His co-students who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Wani was a good student and they expected him to join the civil services.
Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh police has launched a probe to establish links of Wani to the State.“Manan visited Bhopal in 2016 to participate in an international conference organised in AISECT University and stayed in the city for three days. He had presented a paper on water conservation at the conference. We have launched a probe to find out where he stayed during his visit to Bhopal and with whom he had contacted during the period”, inspector general of police (intelligence) Makrand Devaskar said in Bhopal.
He added, “We will share with other investigating agencies in the country if we get any actionable information regarding his MP connections”.
Intelligence sources said the MP anti-terrorist squad (ATS) sprang to action after it was alerted by its Uttar Pradesh counterpart on Wani.
The Hizb late Monday night confirmed Wani’s joining the outfit. Hizb spokesman Saleem Hashmi quoted the outfit chief Syed Salahuddin as saying that Wani has joined the militant ranks and that his entry “is the negation to India’s propaganda that the youth are joining militant ranks because of unemployment and economic problem”.
Hashmi said that the Hizb Chief while speaking at a meeting of its ‘command council’ also said, “Form past several years, the educated youth joined Hizb to take the ongoing freedom movement to the logical conclusion.”