SRINAGAR: A 20-year-old Kashmiri student of engineering at Uttar Pradesh’s Sharda University, who was assaulted by unknown students on the campus last month, has joined the so called Islamic State.

In a purported audio message that has gone viral on social media, the B Tech student identified as Ehtisham Bilal, pledged his allegiance to the ‘Islamic State’ group led by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

“It is a great blessing for me that I have joined Jundul Khilafah led by Abu Bakr Al-Bagdadi. I have taken the pledge that I will not rest till Islamic rule is established in Kashmir,” Ehtisham says in the audio clip.

A photograph showing the youth wielding a gun with the flag of the Islamic State in the background was also released on social media. “We are verifying the authenticity of the audio clip and the photograph,” Munir Khan, additional DGP, Jammu and Kashmir Police, said.

Family sources said Ehtisham was assaulted by unknown students at the university campus on October 4 following which the frequency of calls he made home started dropping till the family lost touch with him completely since October 26.

His father, Bilal Ahmad Sofi, runs a general store in their locality while his mother is a housewife. The family had staged a protest in the Srinagar’s Press Enclave earlier this week, urging the Governor S P Malik to intervene in the case and help them in locating their missing son.

“The news has left them (Ehtisham’s family) devastated. Since he went missing last month, his mother slipped into depression. Now, his father is also unable to cope with the loss of their son,” a family source said.

This is not the first instance that harassment has led a Kashmiri youth to pick up arms. Burhan Wani, whose killing in 2016 sparked a mass uprising, was also a victim of high handedness at the hands of security forces, which forced him to join militancy, his father Muzaffar Wani said.

Although the so called Islamic State has no base in Kashmir, it has claimed at least three attacks in recent past and the group has emerged as a favourite for the disillusioned youngsters wanting to join militancy.

The Islamic State group derives its cadre from Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen outfit that has been active in Kashmir since the insurgency broke out in early nineties.

After announcing its presence in J&K, the first chief of so called Islamic State Jammu Kashmir, Syed Ovais, was killed in 2017. Following his killing, the outfit was headed by Mugees Mir who was also gunned down by security forces last year.

Another youth from Srinagar, Eisa Fazili, a B.Tech student from Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, had, after the killing of Mugees, dropped out of the Varsity and joined the outfit. He was killed in an encounter last year.

Mugees and Eisa were owned by the ISIS in a statement that was posted on the proscribed outfit’s official website.