Srinagar: Thousands of people thronged Hajin’s Eidgah to bid last adieu to 15-year-old Saqib Bilal on Sunday in Srinagar. It is the same place that Saqib used to spend hours playing football with his close friend. Saqib was a popular face, for he played a role in the Shahid Kapoor starrer ‘Haider’ four years ago. Just like the film, Saqib’s end was also written in blood.
Saqib was among the three militants killed in an encounter in Srinagar’s Mujgund on Sunday. Saqib and his friend Mudasir Parray went missing from their home in Bandipora district’s Hajin on August 31 and joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba. They were killed on Sunday after an 18-hour-long gunbattle on the outskirts of Srinagar city, along with a Pakistani militant commander, Ali Bhai.
After their families gave up on hopes on finding them, about a week ago, a video of the two football-lovers showed up on the internet. They had AK-47 in their hands.
Saqib’s father Bilal Ahmad Sheikh told News18 that his son was a bright student who wanted to become an engineer. “He loved football and acting,” said Bilal Ahmed adding that Saqib’s life was filled with his own adventures, totally untouched even by the shadows of militancy and the ongoing conflicts.
Meanwhile, Mudasir too was not someone who spoke about the political issues. He worked as a labourer to support his family, which had his ailing parents, a handicapped brother and a 10-year-old sister.
“He would work and give the money to his mother. The work used to affect his studies but he was a hardworking and a sensitive boy. He did not want me to take all the burden of the family,” said Rasheed Ahmad Parray, Mudasir’s father, who recalled an incident from 2016, when Madasir was 12-years-old and was arrested in a stone-pelting case. “The police had told me to counsel him. They had let him go the,” he recalls.
The family feels that killing of Mudasir’s relative Abid Hamid Mir in 2017 had an impact on him and this may have led him to join the militancy groups. “I believe it was his own choice to die like this,” says Parray.
The cases of teenagers picking up guns in Kashmir is on the rise and the families of these boys blame the security forces for this plight of Kashmir where young boys who do not even understand the cause that they are fighting are joining the militant organisations.