Kashmiri Student, Missing From Noida, Seen With ISIS Flag On Social Media

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Ahtesham Bilal Sofi was a first year graduation student at Greater Noida's Sharda University

New Delhi:

Ahtesham Bilal Sofi, the Kashmiri student who went missing from his college in Greater Noida last week, has joined a terror outfit in Jammu and Kashmir, social media posts claim.

A photograph, allegedly of Ahtesham Bilal Sofi, was seen on social media, including Facebook. It shows the missing student in a black attire and headgear standing next to the ISIS flag. The post claims that the teenager has joined an offshoot of terror group ISIS.

The 17-year-old, a resident of downtown Srinagar, was a first year graduation student at Greater Noida's Sharda University. He went missing on October 28 after he left the university with official permission to go to Delhi, around 35 km from his college.

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When he did not return till the next morning and was untraceable, the university registered a 'missing persons' complaint with the police in Greater Noida. A case was also registered by the police in Srinagar later.

Based on the complaint, the police began a search operation. 48 hours after he went missing, cops traced Ahtesham's mobile. The location, they say, was Srinagar. The police traced his calls and confirmed that he last spoke with his father on Monday evening, after which his phone was switched off.

Arvind Pathak, the Station House Officer of Greater Noida's Knowledge Park police station said, "Ahtesham's last known location was Srinagar from where he talked to his father at 4:30 pm on Monday, October 29. His phone has been switched off since then."

"On October 28, the student took permission in the morning to go to Delhi. But when he did not return till the next morning, university officials contacted his father in Srinagar," an official of the university said.

"Around 4:30 pm on Monday, Ahtesham spoke to his father and told him that he was in a Delhi Metro train, going back to the university. His calls were being tracked, and from his location and call details, it was clear that he was in Kashmir at the time, but was lying to his father," an official said.

Social media posts now claim that Ahtasham Bilal Sofi has joined terrorist group ISJK, an outfit influenced by ISIS ideology.

The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) said it has been tracking the case closely since October 28 and has taken cognizance of the photos that surfaced on social media.

"We are in touch with the Jammu and Kashmir police. We are tracking him," Inspector General, ATS, Asim Arun told news agency PTI.

The Jammu and Kashmir police too, said that they were "ascertaining" Ahtesham's presence in the Valley. The Gautam Buddh Nagar police (Noida-Greater Noida), who had traced the last location of Ahtesham's mobile phone to terror-hit Pulwama district in south Kashmir, is also carrying out a detailed investigation.

According to the police in Noida, Ahtesham had left for Srinagar from Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport in the afternoon of October 28 and reached Pulwama later that day.

(With inputs from PTI)

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