Only Shawkatur Rahman could narrate what went through his life without his son who joined militancy after fleeing home.
"I did not hear my son calling me 'baba' for years and I even could not see my daughter-in-law and grandchildren all those days. But I had a strong belief my son along with his wife will give up militancy and come back to me," Shawkat, a banker from Sylhet, said while narrating his hard days without the loved ones.
He spent around 12 years searching for his son and finally got the call he had been waiting for.
His son, Shawan Muntaha Ibn Shawkat, 34, and his daughter-in-law, Nusrat Al Juhi, 29, are among the nine militants who formally surrendered to law enforcement agencies on Thursday, paving the way for their return to normal life.
"Give priority to your children, talk to them. To prevent our children from joining militancy, the first thing we need to do is to enhance family bonding and attachment," Shawkatur broke down in tears of joy after getting back his son and daughter-in-law after a long time.
Shawan joined Ansar Al Islam, a banned militant outfit, while studying a public university in Sylhet. Later, he married Nusrat Al Juhi, a then medical student, and radicalised her too in the name of so-called "Jihad".
As per the decision of Ansar Al Islam's high command, they, along with their two children, came to Dhaka in 2017. But they had to change their residence time and again in the face of the regular crackdown of law enforcement agencies.
Finally, the couple alongside seven other active members of different militant organisations has surrendered to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
Other surrendered people are Abida Jannat Asma alias Tarad alias Ramisa, 18, hailing from Cumilla district, Mohammad Hossain alias Hasan Gazi, 23, Md Saifullah, 37, hailing from Chandpur district, Md Saiful Islam, 31, hailing from Jhenidah district, Md Abdullah Al Mamun, 26, Md Saidur Rahman, 22, hailing from Chuadanga district and Abdur Rahman Sohel, 28, hailing from Cumilla district.
Among them, six were active members of Jama'atul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB).
A formal surrender programme was held at the Azad Memorial Hall at RAB Headquarters in the capital on Thursday.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and Inspector General of Police Benazir Ahmed were present at the programme.
Besides, prominent citizens, including academics, Islamic scholars and cultural personalities, took part in the ceremony under the slogan "Return to New Horizons".
All nine have received counselling for two-six months under the RAB's supervision.
Of the former militants, eight were handed over to their families and the other one will be handed over later on completion of the legal process, said RAB Director General Chowdhury Abdullah Al Mamun.
The home minister at the programme said the government has kept militancy and extremism under control and the de-radicalisation process will help the cause.
A 19-year-old woman, Abida Jannat Asma, who was radicalised by her husband two years ago, surrendered and also asked her husband to bring an end to that life and return to normalcy by surrendering.
Abida Jannat Asma alias Raisa passed HSC in 2019. She met a person on Facebook and developed a love affair with him. She ran away without informing her parents and married the youth. Later, they both went abroad to study. In the meantime, she became involved in militancy after being encouraged by her husband.
Expressing her feelings after the surrender, Asma said, "I was slowly realising that I chose a wrong path. I had to live far away from my parents. The man who made me his life partner by misinterpreting the religion was also living a very difficult life. I emotionally broke down after being separated from my family and society."
"At one point, I decided to surrender to law enforcement to return to normal life. Finally, I surrendered today."
"I have realised that I was on the wrong track. I do not want anyone else to make such a mistake. I am also urging my fugitive husband to come back from the wrong path. Everyone should take care of themselves spiritually and mentally. Have your own judgment towards yourself. Do n0t blindly believe anything," Asma said.
After getting her daughter back, Asma's mother Shahida Sultana said, "Today, my daughter has come back to me. Living the life of a militant's mother is very difficult. I urge all parents to take care of their children and give them time."