Indian theater lost a future artist, martial arts lost a potential torch-bearer and the game of football lost a fan when Saqib Bilal of Kashmir left home to become a terrorist. On December 9th, he lost his life during the Mujgund encounter.
Another boy of 9th standard who had joined militants along with him after suddenly disappearing in August, was also killed in the encounter. Bilal’s family have still not been able to figure out what exactly inspired the ardent football follower and acting enthusiast to take up gun against his own country and people.
“For more than a month, we went to places to find them. Ultimately, we realised the unthinkable,” Asim Aijaz, Bilal’s maternal uncle, said. “He had an interest in engineering. We could never understand why he joined. In fact, he left home on the day to buy some groceries. People had seen the two boys riding behind a third person on a bike,” Aijaz said.
Bilal had cleared his class 10 exam with distinction and even did a cameo role in Vishal Bharadwaj’s Haider. “He was in his sixth class when he appeared for two brief shots in Haider which have appeared in the film. In one of the shots he appeared as a ‘chocolate boy’ and in another, he acted of surviving a violent incident in a bus,” Aijaz said.
The boy was also a Kabaddi and taekwondo player. His becoming a terrorist is still surprise to those who knew him. The only reason Bilal’s family could find was an encounter between militants and security forces a day before their disappearance in Hajin. “Some militants had been killed and people went to see the ruined place,” Asim said.
The family believes that the encounter prompted the youth to leave house and join the militants.