Azhar left Kashmir for job, returned to Delhi as alleged IS sympathiser

SRINAGAR: The journey of Azhar-ul-Islam, one of the three persons arrested at New Delhi airport on Friday for being “Islamic State sympathisers”, started last year when he was promised a job by a Dubai-based individual on Facebook.
Azhar’s family was in debt after having constructed a house and taking loan for running their provisional store at Ganderbal in central Kashmir. And 23-year-old Azhar assured his family that he would pay back the debt once he joins his new job at a top hotel in Dubai.
“My brother was doing B Ed from a Ganderbal college. But last year, he came in touch with a man on Facebook. The man arranged a visa for him to Dubai and promised him a job,” Azhar’s brother Zubair Ahmad Sheikh said.
In July last year, Azhar left for Dubai, taking along his certificates and Rs 30,000 for tickets and other expenses. For two months, he didn’t contact his family, said Zubair.
“He called us after two months, only to tell us that he has been arrested as soon as he arrived at the airport. But he would tell us that he will be released soon,” he told Kashmir Reader.
“He told us, ‘I have some issue with my visa and for that reason I was arrested.’ But we didn’t know anything about IS link till we received a call from NIA yesterday,” he added.
On Friday, media reported that three IS sympathisers were deported from UAE for allegedly being on a mission to carry out an attack in India and some other countries.
Azhar’s family, however, contested the charges levelled on him, saying, “Azhar had nothing to do with attacks or IS. It is a false charge on him. He is innocent. How can they (NIA) call him an IS member?”
His brother, an undergraduate student, said the family never participated in protests or in militancy-related activities in the Valley during the past two-and-a-half decades.
“Check our antecedents and police will come to know. We are a poverty-ridden family and has always voted during elections here,” he added.
In his last conversation with the family, on December 28, Azhar told his family that he would return home soon because he had a toothache.
“He did not say anything about being deported or anything,” Zubair said.
So far, it is believed that 23 Indians have joined the IS, and out of them six are said to have been killed in Iraq and Syria.
Earlier, a Kashmiri based in Australia had figured in the list of people who have joined IS.
The Kashmiri militants as well as pro-freedom groups have distanced themselves from the IS, even when the outfit recently hinted about its intentions to target Kashmir.
Responding to the hints, Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference had said that Islamic State’s statements would only hand over to India an opportunity to defame the freedom struggle of Kashmir.
“Now, he is in Delhi, but we are not financially sound to go and meet him. We don’t know whom to approach there. The NIA officials told us that he would call again on Monday, so we are only waiting for that call,” Zubair said.

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