Rajouri (J&K): The virtue of being a democratic country is allowing even a terrorist turned SPO to don the hat of a political leader. This is what is being seen in Rajouri district in Jammu & Kashmir. A former Hizbul militant is contesting election for village head and if the huge response is taken into account, his victory is almost confirmed.

Munaf Malik better known as Inqalabi or Aslam Malik in the terrorist circle was a former District Commander of the militant group Hizbul Mujahedeen. He has had 126 encounters with the Indian Army, 19 face-offs with police and involved in numerous carnages. 

But Malik is a changed man now, he confesses. The one time gun picking hands of Malik are now folded together to ask votes to ensure his victory in April 30 panchayat election. He has been going from door-to-door to garner support.

Speaking to Danik Jagran, Malik narrated his story of turning to militancy and then coming back to the social fold. A resident of Darhal tehsil in Rajouri district in the state, Malik crossed the Indian border in 1994 to undergo arms training in Sialkot. He even visited Afghanistan to receive militant training from Taliban and came back to India in 1995. He was then appointed as the District Commander of Hizbul at his home turf. After that he was made the Divisional Commander of Tehrik-ul-Jehad and was active in the districts of Rajouri, Udhampur, Poonch, Doda.

Malik said, “I was being harassed here and therefore one day I decided to take up arms. When I left home to join terrorism, I had an eight- month- old boy back home. After a few years of bloodshed, I realized that it was enough. I wanted to repent for my sins and therefore I surrendered in 1999 to police.”

After surrendering he was offered the job of SPO by J&K police. “I served as an SPO till 2008 when I realized that this was not enough to purge my sins. So I quit the job and devoted myself to social work. People coaxed me to join politics and contest elections. At their behest I am contesting for village head,” narrated Malik. He added that he and his family had to face many trials and tribulations after he left the militant group but he carried on undaunted.
Praising Malik’s efforts, residents of Rajouri said, “He is a changed man now and that is why we will vote for him as he has done a lot for our society.”

Malik’s election symbol is 'bed' (chaarpai). In this connection, SDPO Thannamandi Raj Kumar Sharma admitted that he had not received any complaints against Malik.