A research scholar from Kupwara in J&K has appeared in a photograph posted on social media holding an under barrel grenade launcher, with a message claiming that he has joined the militancy. Mannan Wani, son of Bashir Ahmad Wani, joined the Hizbul Mujahideen on January 5, states the message along with the photograph that appeared on Facebook and WhatsApp.
According to Wani’s family, he was pursuing his PhD in applied geology at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
Speaking to The Indian Express, Wani’s brother, Mubashir Ahmad, a junior engineer, said: “We have also seen the picture on social networking sites. But we have no idea (whether he has joined militants or not). We lost contact with him on January 4 as his phone was switched off. We thought he had switched it off for some reason or lost it. As we couldn’t contact him, we lodged a missing report with police on Saturday.”
Officials at AMU could not be contacted for comment but the university’s official website states that Wani, 26, was pursuing a PhD on ‘Structural and Geo-Morphological Study of Lolab Valley, Kashmir’. According to the website, he received an award for the best paper presented at an international conference on ‘Water, Environment, Ecology and Society’ in 2016. It states that he enrolled in AMU after doing his Bachelor’s in Geology and Earth Sciences from the University of Kashmir. He completed his Master’s and MPhil in Geology from AMU, it says.
Wani’s brother said his brother left home for Aligarh a month ago. “All this time, we thought he was in Aligarh. He would talk to us regularly. We don’t have any idea where he is,” he said. SSP Kupwara Shamsheer Khan did not respond to requests from The Indian Express seeking comment. But sources said Wani was active during the recent student elections at the university.
He had also apparently penned several articles on student politics on an online portal, thecompanion.com. Wani’s biographical sketch on the portal describes him as a research scholar at AMU who is a “student activist having interest in geopolitics and Islamic revivalist movements”.