Majid Irshad Khan, the 20-year-old footballer from Anantnag who was suspected to have joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba earlier in November, returned home on Friday, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said. Inspector General of Police Munir Khan said Majid Khan had earlier contacted his family to say that he wanted to come back.

Following reports that Majid Khan had surrendered to the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, IGP Munir Khan clarified, “He has neither surrendered nor has he been arrested. He has returned home.”

Major General BS Raju said the footballer had taken a brave decision to come back. “I compliment him and assure that he will be able to get back to normal life very soon,” Raju told journalists at a press conference.

In a statement, the Lashkar-e-Taiba said it allowed Khan to return home on the request of his mother, Greater Kashmir reported. “Lashkar-e-Taiba has never sought violence or barbarism,” a spokesperson said.

The group said the “freedom struggle of Kashmir is being brought up by the sacrifices of whole nation and if one mother calls upon his son to get back to her, we will respect her decision”.

Majid, who used to be known as the David Beckham of Sadiquabad, is believed to have joined the LeT after the funeral of his friend Yawar Nissar Shergujri, a militant who was killed in an encounter with security forces in Anantnag in August, PTI reported.

He had hinted at joining the militants in a Facebook post on October 29. “When the desire for martyrdom beats in your heart, why fear the gallows then?” he had written.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti hailed Majid Khan’s return and appealed to the youth of the state to give up militancy. “A mother’s love prevailed,” she wrote on Twitter. “Her impassioned appeal helped in getting Majid, an aspiring footballer, back home. Everytime a youngster resorts to violence, it is his family which suffers the most.”

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that he hoped Majid Khan could lead a normal life and will not be harassed.