Three scholars take to arms in Kashmir during last two years

The newest recruit to the militant cause in Kashmir has a rare academic qualification. Before being suspended, he was a PhD scholar in applied geology at Aligarh Muslim University.
Mannan Wani, a resident of Tekipora village in Kupwara district, appeared in a militant avatar in a photograph that went viral on social media recently and shows him posing with an assault rifle.
“It is clear what has happened,” his brother Mubashir Wani, an engineer, told Kashmir Post, referring to the photograph. He said Mannan came home in October last year and left for Aligarh in December.
“We lost contact with him on January 3,” he said.
A senior police officer in Kupwara said Wani’s father had filed a report that his son was missing for the last several days. He said the police was investigating if Wani had joined militant ranks.
“We don’t know the authenticity of the picture. We haven’t been able to trace him so far and all possibilities are being investigated,” said Shamsher Hussain, SSP, Kupwara.
Pictures with weapons, like that of Wani, have become a trend among new militant recruits in the region. It announces their joining militant organisations. In the photograph, Wani is seen posing with an assault rifle fitted with an under-barrel grenade launcher.
Militant recruitment has registered a significant increase in the region in the last two years, with many of the new recruits coming from educated backgrounds and having high academic qualifications. Last year, 120 youths joined militant groups in Kashmir even as more than 200 militants were killed in counter-insurgency operations. Both figures are highest in a decade.
Wani, who was a PhD student at Aligarh Muslim University before he was suspended, is the third research scholar to become a militant since the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in 2016.
Azharuddin Khan, one of the three research scholars who joined the militant ranks and had qualified for PhD in Arabic, was killed in a gunfight in February last year. He was a resident of Kandi, Kupwara, and was a lecturer at a higher secondary school in Handwara when he became a militant in April 2016.
The third research scholar who became a militant in two years was Sabzar Bashir of Naina village of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district. He was a PhD research scholar in botany at Jamia Millia Islamia. He arrived home on a vacation in July 2016 and joined militant ranks on July 8, a day after Burhan Wani’s killing.