NEARLY THREE weeks after a 22-year-old student from Kashmir studying at a private college in Dehradun went missing, Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday said that he has joined militancy.
Family members of the student – Shoaib Mohammad Lone, from Bumrath village in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district – said that he has not returned despite an appeal from his mother.
Shoaib was studying BSc (IT) at Alpine Institute of Management and Technology in Dehradun. The institute’s director, S K Chauhan said that he returned to college after a long time on September 19, and left the following day, stating that his mother was not well and he had to visit her.
An uncle, Abdul Khaliq Lone, said Shoaib did not get home and they found his cellphone switched off after he called home on September 20. The family, he said, lodged a missing complaint after failing to contact him.
On Tuesday, Kulgam’s Superintendent of Police Harmeet Singh told The Indian Express, “We received a missing report from the family. We have information that he joined the Hizbul Mujahideen around eight days ago.”
A video of Shoaib’s mother appealing him to return had gone viral on social media recently. In the video, she says that if Shoaib is “with any tanzeem (outfit)”, he should be “sent home”. The video shows her saying, “I will consume poison if he does not return. I have no one else other than him (Shoaib).”
A photo of Shoaib carrying an automatic rifle has been circulated widely on social media.
Alpine institute director Chauhan said that Shoaib took admission in 2016 and was a “good student”. Chauhan said, “He was never involved in any mischief or fights. He completed four semesters of BSc (IT) in May 2018 and never failed any exam.”
But with the fifth semester set to begin in mid-July, Shoaib did not return to Dehradun, Chauhan said. “We sent a letter to his mother in Kashmir, informing about his absence from college. He did not return to the college until September 19.”
According to Chauhan, Shoaib left on September 20 stating that he needed to travel to Kashmir to visit his ailing mother and did not attend any classes either on September 19 or 20.
His uncle Abdul Khaliq said, “Shoaib was home for more than a month before he left for college on September 12. He last called home on September 20 and spoke to his mother, who was unwell. We were not aware that he had left college for Kashmir the same day.”
He said Shoaib’s father, a militant, died in 1995.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Rawat said, “We will keep an eye on all students from other states coming to study in Uttarakhand to ensure such incidents are not repeated.”