Mother’s call !

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Several families have issued appeals to their militant wards to return after the Lashkar-i-Toiba militant Majid Khan’s decision to give up militancy following his mother’s appeal. Though the government has celebrated Khan’s return as an outcome of the mother’s love and which certainly has been a factor, Lashkar has made it clear that it let go off Khan as he was the only son of his parents. But Khan’s return seems to have set off a trend. As many as six families have made similar appeals. First to do so was  the mother of Irfan Ahmad Rather, a resident of Shariafabad in south Kashmir. In a moving 38 second video, the mother beseeches her son to return with folded hands. This was followed by the videos appeals from mothers of Ashiq Hussain of Shopian and Sajjad Ahmad Shah of Kupwara. However, Ashiq Hussain, in a statement has refused to return, saying he had chosen the best path for himself. One more militant, according to police, has returned to his family. However, police has chosen not to identify him for his “security and safety”.  

The successive appeals from the mothers has created a difficult situation for the militant groups. Listening to one mother would mean  granting the request of another and then another. Lashkar has made it clear that no more militants will return home on their mothers’ appeals. The outfit has cited the example of Shafi Gujri who didn’t surrender even while his wife with their kid in her lap urged him to surrender during an encounter.

However, what has made the development ironical is the way social media has become the site of a tug of war between the militants on side and the security agencies on the other. The same social media which the government said militant groups were using to glamourize militancy and drawing local youth into their ranks has now become a tool to try and bring militants back – albeit with little success so far.

What has, however, happened is that these videos have humanized the life of militants. Once a Kashmiri youth picks up gun,  more often than not, he gets to be looked at through a stereotypical prism. His life is evacuated of the everyday reality of an individual. It is divested of his associations with his kith and kin, his personal and family history. He becomes an abstract figure, ostracised by one side and adored by the other. Terrorist for one and mujahid for another.  For example,  Ashiq Hussain has a mother, a frail, ailing father, wife besides other members of the family And there is no reliable source of income. Seeing these videos, there is little scope for facile value judgement. For the situation that contextualizes them is very complex. One would rather want a permanent redressal of the longstanding historical and political factors that create a space for conflict in the society.  And it is only in pursuit of such an end that the prospects for peace lie.    

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