The family of Ehtisham Bilal, the Kashmiri student who has allegedly joined the Islamic State after going missing from his Greater Noida university, Saturday appealed to the militant group to let him return as he was “the only son”.
The appeal came after a picture of a person wearing a black outfit and weapons and posing with the IS flag and an audio message, purportedly of Ehtisham, announcing he had joined the IS in the state, went viral on social media in Kashmir.
In a video message shared widely on social media, the student’s father Bilal Ahmed said his son was the “only male heir of an extended family” and asked the militants to allow him return home.
“Have mercy on us and let him return. Allah will have mercy on you,” he said.
“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 Ahmed as tears streamed down his face. Ehtisham’s mother also pleaded and begged her only son to return home as she wept inconsolably next to her husband.
“Please release him as he is the only son among the family. For God’s sake, please allow him to come back,’’ said one of Bilal’s sisters.
Ehtisham went missing last Sunday after telling his father he was going sight-seeing in Delhi.
A native of Khanyar in downtown Srinagar, he had shifted to Greater Noida three months ago after enrolling in Sharda University and was living in the varsity’s hostel at the Knowledge Park area in Greater Noida.
On October 4, he was roughed up by a group of students who mistook him for an Afghanduring a clash between Indian and Afghan students at Sharda University campus in Greater Noida. Police had lodged a first information report against 350 students of Sharda University for rioting.
Without mentioning the place or the incident specifically, the voice in the audio mentions some people who attacked him like “dogs” and states that he had made up his mind to take up jihad that day.
Meanwhile, police said that they are verifying the authenticity of the picture and the audio. “We are verifying these things. This has to be confirmed,” said additional director general of police Munir Khan.
If authentic, the picture and the audio raises fear that the 17-year-old, a first-year student of bachelor in medical imaging technology, might have joined militancy.
J&K police have also been checking on people who have been visiting Ehtisham in Kashmir. Sajad Shah, superintendent of police, north Srinagar, on Wednesday said he was not sure of any militancy connection. However he mentioned that the boy was friends with a youth who had later joined militancy.
“He was friends with youth Fahad Waza who joined militancy and was killed in an encounter at Fateh Kadal on October 17,” Shah had said.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah termed Ehtisham’s case “hugely worrying”.
‘’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,’’ he said in a tweet.