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Kashmir: Off-duty Soldier Goes Missing, Family Makes Fervent Appeal

Anees Zargar |
The 25-year-old belonged to the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and had left his home on Saturday evening to buy groceries in the Chowalgam market.

Image credit: Special arrangement

Srinagar: The family of the Indian Army’s Javed Ahmad Wani has made fervent appeals for the return of the young soldier after he was reported missing few days back near his home in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district.

The 25-year-old belonged to the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment of the Indian Army. He had left his home on Saturday evening to buy groceries in the Chowalgam market and was driving a private car at the time. Since he did not return, his family and relatives suspect that he may have been abducted by militants in the area. But, officials claimed that they had not received any demands and neither has anyone made claims about the abduction. There are no fresh inputs so his whereabouts remain “inconclusive”, they added.

Soon after his family and neighbours raised an alarm, the security forces launched a joint operation to trace the soldier.

Wani had just returned from Ladakh, where he was posted, for holidays and had to join a new posting, according to his father Muhammad Ayoub. His parents are suffering from multiple ailments, including cardiac issues.

“He is the lone breadwinner of the family. If anyone has abducted him, I request them to release him. He has not harmed anyone but if he has, I apologise on his behalf. I will also ask him to resign from his job,” his father told reporters in Kulgam.

Wani’s mother also released a video message calling for the release of the allegedly abducted soldier. At their home in Asthal village, scores of villagers and relatives of the victim have gathered to extend solidarity with the family with many also joining those looking for Wani.

“I will give up everything but please let my Javed go. He is young and innocent...I will sell everything for him...I am burning from inside for his sake,” said Wani’s grieving mother as she wept inconsolably.

The incident has sent shockwave across the Valley with many expressing solidarity with the family and calling for the release of Wani if he has been abducted.

There have been at least half a dozen such incidents where off-duty soldiers and policemen have been targeted by suspected militants. In March 2022, the body of a jawan of the Territorial Army (TA) Sameer Ahmad Malla was retrieved from an orchard in central Kashmir’s Budgam district following his abduction.

Militancy-related violence has ebbed significantly in Kashmir as the number of actives has fallen drastically since last year but, the apprehensions about a sudden flare up remains within the security establishment.

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