An audio clip of a promising footballer-turned-militant where he is purportedly claiming to have been forced to pick up gun just ahead of his killing in an encounter has courted controversy with family and netizens debunking it as a “piece of government propaganda”.
In the controversial audio note, 22-year-old Aamir Siraj is heard saying that he was tricked by militants to join their ranks and later warned not to surrender as that would bring death to his family.
The purported dying admission broke many hearts after some media agencies and social media handles, including a few local journalists, ran the alleged telephonic conversation between the militant and the father, apparently before his death during a gunfight with security forces in the Kreeri area of Baramulla on December 24.
Soon after the audio went viral, the militant’s father, Siraj-ud-din, rebutted the claim by releasing a video. He said the audio was fake as he had never spoken to his son since he joined militancy six months ago. He said he was unaware that his son was trapped in the gunfight last week and at the time, the family was attending a function at his sister’s house.
Social media was aggrieved and a number of users had poured condolences when some videos of Aamir’s dribbling practice went viral on internet after his death.
The audio that surfaced on Monday on social media platforms allegedly revealed the militant’s conversation with his father while he was apparently trapped in a gunfight and his desire to surrender to reunite with his family.
The audio revealed that the Army and police were even giving him a chance to surrender but he could not because he was not allowed to.
“I tried to surrender but they (militants) are pressurising me not to… they have threatened to kill all my family… Whatever happens to me now (so be it), I want you all safe,” the man in the audio is heard saying. He then advised the person on the other side to not “allow anyone take the wrong path”.
The man in the audio is then heard saying that militants’ had put a gun on him, clicked his picture and posted it on social media, leaving him with no choice to surrender. “I was tricked and pressurised to join.”
A journalist and some national media platforms in Jammu & Kashmir tweeted the audio was released by the police, but it could not be independently confirmed.
Repeated calls to Baramulla police chief to ascertain the veracity of the audio were in vain. However, JK DGP Dilbag Singh, in a telephonic interview to CNN News18, did regret his death. “He wanted to surrender but the militants never allowed him. He was a prominent footballer and it is unfortunate that he had to die like this,” Singh said.
Singh said the militant wanted to surrender but a Pakistani (army) captain who was “around him” was not allowing him to do so as “otherwise they will kill his family.”
Singh did not elaborate whether he was taking orders from across the border or a fellow Pakistani militant, named Abrar Langoo, also killed in the same encounter, was shooting orders.
However Aamir’s father said, “It is neither his (Aamir’s) voice nor Siraj-ud-din’s (himself). They (the speakers) are speaking in a South Kashmir dialect.”
Aamir belonged to Sopore in north Kashmir and even ordinary Kashmiris can identify the difference between the two dialects.
“He (man in audio) addresses his father as ‘Abba’ while my son addressed me as ‘Abbuji’. He refers to his mother as ‘Boba’, but Aamir sahib called his mother ‘Mummy’.”
Siraj-ud-din said the family was not aware of their son being trapped in an encounter. “We had gone for a family function at my sister’s home. “’At 4 pm on that day, the local SHO told us they had no idea whether Aamir was trapped in the gunfight,” he said in the video.
“In the evening, we again received a call, this time telling us to identify his body.” The body was later taken to Sheeri village in Baramulla for burial. Some family members participated in the last rites.