It has been a monumental week for a young goalkeeper in Anantnag, Jammu and Kashmir. Seven days ago, the youngster announced on Facebook that he was joining the militant ranks. And it wasn’t an empty claim either. He was pictured and spotted holding an AK47 at the funeral of a militant killed in an encounter in Khund. A day later, his family and friends – especially his mother – appealed to him to return home. And after much contemplation, that is exactly what Majid Arshid Khan did.
Now he has a chance at a new lease of life and to turn things around. Majid who represented his local football club, before embroiling himself in the controversy, has a shot at taking his love for the sport from local side to maybe donning India colours in the future. Former India striker Bhaichung Bhutia has extended an offer to the youngster to train in New Delhi at his Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools academy.
“I read the story in the newspaper and reacted based upon it. My offer is simply to come train with us in the academy. If he is good enough and proves it, then he can become a professional. It is just to give him support and a chance at building talent,” he said exclusively to IndianExpress.com.
The plan involves free travel for Majid from his hometown to Delhi and then an opportunity to stay at the academy while undergoing training and trials. “We plan to provide him with free training and fly him down to New Delhi. He can then stay here if he is good to continue,” said the former India captain.
Bhutia, who is also the AIFF advisor, had contacted the Jammu and Kashmir Football Association to ask them to get in touch with Majid and relay the message. He revealed the details in a tweet, which said, “I felt concerned reading this news and hence I have spoken to J&K Football Association President to Reach out to him and convey my offer that he can train with BBF Schools in Delhi which will give him an opportunity at becoming a pro footballer. I hope Majid accepts my offer.”
Local police had said Majid joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and returned following appeals by his friends, family and IGP, Kashmir, Muneer Khan. His family was assured that he won’t be charged in any case as he returned of his own accord.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had also welcomed Majid’s decision to return home. “A mother’s love prevailed. Her impassioned appeal helped in getting Majid, an aspiring footballer, back home. Every time a youngster resorts to violence, it is his family which suffers the most,’’ she had said in a tweet.
A second-year student at the Degree College in Anantnag, Majid is enrolled in the commerce department and following his return, there is jubilation. “I am feeling very happy on the return of my son. We appreciate the efforts of our friends and well-wishers,” said his father Irshad Khan.
The family reside at Sadiqabad and Majid’s decision to go the millitancy route came after seeing his friend Yawar Nissar killed in an encounter in south Kashmir in August. “At the funeral, he wept till his friend’s body was laid to rest. After that, he was a changed person,” said one of his friends. According to police records, 170 militants, including 70 local militants, have been killed this year in different gun battles in the Valley.