An audio message has surfaced on social media in which the student purportedly says he has joined an Islamic State (IS)-inspired militant group in the Valley. Ahtesham Bilal Sofi, 17 or 19, a resident of downtown Srinagar, was a first year graduation student at Greater Noida’s Sharda University.
He went missing on October 28 after he left the university with official permission to go to Delhi.
Kashmiri student Ehtisham Bilal, who was missing after being beaten up by students in #ShardaUniversity on October 4 has reportedly joined militant ranks after returning to Valley as few days ago. #Kashmir #ISJK pic.twitter.com/N7RrKtyjVI
— Zulqarnain Ibn Usuf (@mzzulfi) November 2, 2018
The six-minute audio appeared on the internet on Friday evening along with a picture of 19-year-old Ehtisham Bilal, in which he purportedly announces joining Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK). He purportedly says he decided to join militants the day he was assaulted at the university, and pledges allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. The picture shows him with an IS flag.
After he went missing university authorities had filed a missing persons’ report at the Knowledge Park Police Station. His father, Bilal Ahmad Sofi, had also filed a complaint at the local police station of Khanyar, Srinagar.
As per reports, police said that he was in Delhi till noon on Sunday. At 2.30 pm his location changed to Srinagar. “We found that he called up his father at 4.30 pm and told him that he was in Delhi. The phone was switched off and remained untraceable after that,” a Delhi police said earlier to reporters.
“We had this suspicion [of him joining militancy] in his case,” additional director general of J&K police (law and order/security) Muneer Khan told News18. “We have also come across his pictures with a gun and the audio. We are verifying its authenticity,” Khan added.
Bilal’s family refused to comment on the picture & audio doing the rounds on social media.
Bilal’s family members staged a protest in Srinagar on Thursday, requesting the administration to help trace him. His father, Bilal Ahmad Sofi, a businessman, earlier said they had no information about him. He said that Bilal last spoke to the family on Sunday, and told them he had gone to Delhi for sightseeing.
Politician Omar Abdullah played cheap politics here!
If this is genuine it’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 it’s even more tragic. One more life on the path to ruin & one more family in turmoil. https://t.co/9xMZ7pDbat
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) November 3, 2018
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also on Tuesday urged Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to take note of the matter and ask authorities to track Bilal at the earliest.
“Cause of grave concern that Ehtishaam Bilal, a student at Sharda University who was assaulted is reportedly missing,” she said on Twitter.
Reference- News18.com, ndtv.com, indianexpress.com
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