Ahtisham Bilal, Kashmir student who joined IS returns home, later whisked away by police

Atisham Bilal Sofi, a student of Sharda University in Greater Noida from Khanyar area of Srinagar who recently joined Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) militant outfit has been detained by police from his home.
Family sources informed reporters that Ahtisham has been detained at Khanyar police station. Police confirmed that Ahtisham was able to return with the help of family.
In the beginning of November, social media posts claiming that a 17-year-old student of Sharda University in Greater Noida had joined militant ranks in the Valley.
The boy went missing on October 28 after he left the varsity with an official permission to go to Delhi.
“He went missing on October 28. We spoke to his relatives and parents who also didn’t have a clue about his whereabouts. We saw his photo on social media and informed the police,” a public relations officer of Sharda University had said.
He had earlier been beaten up in a case of mistaken identity at Sharda University in October when a scuffle broke out between Indian and Afghan students on its campus.
A missing complaint was registered in the case at Knowledge Park Police Station in Greater Noida as well as at Khanyar Police Station in Srinagar, officials said.

Meanwhile, The police said on Sunday that it “brought back” a student of Khanyar, Srinagar, who had allegedly joined militant ranks in October this year after he went missing from a university in Uttar Pradesh, while asserting that “attempts to bring back more youth are underway”.
Ehtisham Bilal, an engineering student at Sharda University, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, had gone missing on October 28, days after he was assaulted by a mob of students on the campus on October 4.
On the evening of November 3, a purported photograph appeared on social media in which Ehtisham was seen holding an AK-47 rifle with the ISIS flag in the backdrop.
The photograph had left his family devastated.
On Sunday, Kashmir range inspector general of police Swyam Prakash Pani told Kashmir Post that “an individual who had joined militant ranks has been brought back with the active support of the family.” He, however, didn’t name the individual.
However, reports soon starting emerging that the police had detained Ehtisham from his residence.
The family of Ehtisham confirmed his detention.
“As as soon as he reached home, he was arrested by the police. He was bleeding from his nose and is not well,” said a family member.
Talking to media, Ehtisham’s father said: “He (my son) returned home but the police arrived soon and detained him. Ehtisham was bleeding and needs to be taken to a hospital first.”
A top police officer here said that Ehtisham has been “kept in preventive custody and has not been arrested”.
“Somebody can come and kill him. We have kept him in preventive custody,” the officer said, wishing anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to speak to media. “Most likely he will be taken to some secure place so that he continues his studies.”
He said that in a bid to wean away local youths from militancy, the police have been assuring parents of those who are believed to have joined various militant groups that a “lenient view will be taken if their kin decides to surrender”.
“We won’t harm them. They are our own children. We are reaching out to the parents and requesting them to convince their children to shun the path of violence. In a few cases, we have achieved success also. We want that they should fight in debates, competitive exams and not with guns,” the police officer said, adding that they have made appeals through district superintendents of police and conveyed that all missing cases need to be verified on the ground and corrective steps should be taken. “Our first attempt is always humanitarian so that we can bring misguided children back. We have given an assurance that a lenient view will be taken in case the youths surrender voluntarily,” he said. About Ehtisham’s return, director general of police Dilbag Singh: “We are very happy. This is a very good work. We want more youth to come back. We will help them.”

Highlights

  • Social media posts were the first claims he had joined militant ranks
  • Police said the boy was able to return with the help of his family
  • A missing person’s complaint was earlier registered in Greater Noida