Driven By Police Harassment, Lolab Youth Joins Militancy

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Srinagar—A Lolab youth who had gone missing from his home a fortnight ago has apparently joined militant ranks as indicated by a photograph, showing him brandishing an assault rifle, which has gone viral on the social media.

Bilal Ahmad Shah, who was only two when he lost his father, had been feeling disturbed over the harassment he was subjected to by the police for long, his family said.

A resident of Shartmuqam in the Lolab area of Kupwara, Bilal (24), had left home on March 1, and the Facebook photograph announced that on March 2 he had joined the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, a group his father, Shamsuddin, belonged to.

According to his family, Bilal had studied up to class 10 in an orphanage, after which he had given up school and begun to work in the Srinagar Fruit Mandi to provide for his family.

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His uncle, Ghulam Rasool Shah confirmed that the family had learnt of the social media photo, but was not sure that he had joined militancy.

Shah said that Bilal had been harassed and tortured by Task Force throughout the month of Ramadhan in 2008.

 “In 2016, when the whole valley was on the boil, clashes and stone pelting were the order of the day. In our Shartmuqam village, only Bilal was picked up by police and he was put behind bars,” he said.

Shah said FIR was also registered against Bilal, and whenever any incident happened in Shartmuqam or its adjoining areas, Bilal was “targeted”.

 “Since then, he was not feeling safe at home. He was looking scared especially during nights. I believe he took this step due to continuous harassment by forces,” he added.

Shah said Bilal was detained for a month in 2008.

 “After he was released, we found he was brutally tortured. Then it took two months for him to recover from injuries. He was not satisfied with life. He had studied at a Yateem Trust (orphanage) in Srinagar and later started working at Fruit Mandi, Parimpora, Srinagar.”

 “If the news about his joining of militancy and uploading of the picture on social media is true, then I appeal him to come back. His only (single) brother is waiting at home,” Bilal’s uncle said.

Militant Manaan Wani, a Ph.D. scholar had announced his joining in similar fashion on January 5 this year. –with inputs from GNS

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