The parents of Kashmiri resident Ahtesham Bilal Sofi, 17, on Saturday appealed to militants to have "mercy" on them and let him return home after the first-year graduate student at a university in Greater Noida claimed that he had joined the Islamic State Jammu Kashmir (ISJK).Â
In a video appeal, which went viral on social media, Ahtesham's father Bilal Ahmad Sofi said his son was the "only male heir of an extended family" and asked the militant to allow him return home.
"Have mercy on us and let him return. Allah will have mercy on you," he said.
His mother also begged her only son to return home as she wept inconsolably next to her husband.
Ahtesham, a resident of Khanyar locality in downtown Srinagar, was a first-year graduation student at the university at Greater Noida. He went missing on October 28 after he left the university with official permission to go to Delhi, days after he was mistakenly roughed up during a scuffle between Indian and Afghan students in the campus.
Later, pictures on social media showed Ahtesham dressed in a black outfit and claimed he had joined the ISJK, an outfit influenced by ISIS ideology.
"Your paradise is your parents, you are the only hope of 12 family members. Did you forget that this house has seen four deaths in the last two years," said Bilal.
A missing complaint has been registered at the Knowledge Park police station in Greater Noida and at Khanyar police station in Srinagar after his disappearance.
The UP Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) said it has been tracking the case since October 28 and has taken cognisance of the photos.
"We are in touch with Jammu and Kashmir police. We are tracking the footprints of the boy from Greater Noida to Kashmir," Inspector General, ATS, Asim Arun told PTI.
The Jammu and Kashmir police said the last location of Sofi's mobile phone was traced to militancy-hit Pulwama district in South Kashmir by Gautam Buddh Nagar police.
Former chief minister and National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah on Saturday said Ahtesham joining militant ranks was hugely worrying.Â
â€œIf this is genuine itâ€™s hugely worrying. Sometimes seemingly small actions have huge consequences. If what happened to him at #ShardaUniversity has lead him to choose such a destructive path itâ€™s even more tragic. One more life on the path to ruin & one more family in turmoil,â€ Omar tweeted.
If this is genuine itâ€™s hugely worrying. Sometimes seemingly small actions have huge consequences. If what happened to him at #ShardaUniversity has lead him to choose such a destructive path itâ€™s even more tragic. One more life on the path to ruin & one more family in turmoil. https://t.co/9xMZ7pDbatâ€” Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) November 3, 2018
In July, Union Minister Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said as many as 87 local youths had joined militancy in Jammu and Kashmir this year.
He said after imposition of Governor's rule in the state on June 20, 12 youths were reported to have disappeared and later joined militancy.
(With agency inputs)