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Faisal Gulzar youngest militant killed in encounter in Kashmir

Faisal Gulzar youngest militant killed in encounter in Kashmir
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Jammu: Faisal Gulzar, the 16-year-old-boy among five militants who were killed in Shopian district o f Kashmir Valley.

Faisal is the youngest militant to have died in a counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir in recent memory.

Faisal, the only brother among five siblings, was reported missing by his family on Thursday, 8 April when he had left home to bring grocery. His family had issued a passionate appeal to militants to stop him from picking up arms.

 “The first jihad for him is to take care of his four sisters and get them married. If you don’t return him, you will have to answer on the day of judgement,” his father, Gulzar Ahmad Ganie, had said, in an apparent appeal to militants.

Faisal’s tragic end once again highlights the use of child combatants in the protracted violence in Kashmir.

According to initial police findings, he was already in touch with militants when he went ‘missing’.

On Saturday evening, 10 April, a team of the J&K Police’s SOG and the Army’s RR laid siege around an orchard in Shopian’s Hadipora.

Three militants were trapped in the cordon. Family sources said Faisal made the last call to his father to inform him that he was among the trapped militants.

“During the phone conversation, he sought forgiveness of his father and mother, and also told him that he was not going to lay down the arms,” a family member told The Quint, wishing anonymity.

“We made sincere efforts and even got his family to the encounter site to convince him to surrender but his associates didn’t allow him to surrender,” Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar told a local news agency.

The other militant killed in the encounter has been identified as Asif Bashir Ganie, also a resident of Chitragam. The identity of the third was not immediately known. They were all affiliated with the Al-Badr outfit.

A Shy, Average Student’

A resident of Chitragam village, Faisal had recently passed Class 9 examination from National Innovations Public School in the neighbouring Zainapora village of Shopian. After schools opened in March this year at the conclusion of winter vacations, he attended regular classes till the government shut schools again last week amid surging cases of COVID-19.

 “He was a shy, average child who didn’t mix easily with other students. But he was a disciplined student who didn’t create fuss either, like other school kids normally do,” Arshad Khan, chairman of the school, said.

Faisal’s father, Gulzar Ahmad, earlier drove a passenger car to make a livelihood. He is now working as a broker of second hand cars to sustain his family.

 “Although their’s is a poor family, his father worked hard to ensure that his only son got good quality education at a private school,” a relative, who didn’t want to be named, said.

 “We were shocked when we learnt about it. I raised him like my own child,” the relative added over phone, struggling to hold back his grief.

According to a video that went viral last week, his mother is seen reminding Faisal that she and his two sisters have undergone surgical procedures and that he was their only support.

“Who will your sisters look up to if you are gone. Come back my son. How are we going to live without you?” Irshada Bano said in the video.

On Sunday, Irshada, her husband, Gulzar, and four daughters were joined by other relatives in their long, arduous journey from south Kashmir to north Kashmir’s Handwara where Faisal is being buried in an unmarked graveyard.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, security agencies have been denying the bodies of militants killed in encounters to their families, arguing that it will prevent mass gatherings at their funerals which might spread the viral infection.

Faisal is the youngest militant to have died in a counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir in recent memory.

Faisal, the only brother among five siblings, was reported missing by his family on Thursday, 8 April when he had left home to bring grocery. His family had issued a passionate appeal to militants to stop him from picking up arms.

 “The first jihad for him is to take care of his four sisters and get them married. If you don’t return him, you will have to answer on the day of judgement,” his father, Gulzar Ahmad Ganie, had said, in an apparent appeal to militants.

Faisal’s tragic end once again highlights the use of child combatants in the protracted violence in Kashmir.

According to initial police findings, he was already in touch with militants when he went ‘missing’.

On Saturday evening, 10 April, a team of the J&K Police’s SOG and the Army’s RR laid siege around an orchard in Shopian’s Hadipora.

Three militants were trapped in the cordon. Family sources said Faisal made the last call to his father to inform him that he was among the trapped militants.

“During the phone conversation, he sought forgiveness of his father and mother, and also told him that he was not going to lay down the arms,” a family member told The Quint, wishing anonymity.

“We made sincere efforts and even got his family to the encounter site to convince him to surrender but his associates didn’t allow him to surrender,” Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar told a local news agency.

The other militant killed in the encounter has been identified as Asif Bashir Ganie, also a resident of Chitragam. The identity of the third was not immediately known. They were all affiliated with the Al-Badr outfit.

A Shy, Average Student’

A resident of Chitragam village, Faisal had recently passed Class 9 examination from National Innovations Public School in the neighbouring Zainapora village of Shopian. After schools opened in March this year at the conclusion of winter vacations, he attended regular classes till the government shut schools again last week amid surging cases of COVID-19.

 “He was a shy, average child who didn’t mix easily with other students. But he was a disciplined student who didn’t create fuss either, like other school kids normally do,” Arshad Khan, chairman of the school, said.

Faisal’s father, Gulzar Ahmad, earlier drove a passenger car to make a livelihood. He is now working as a broker of second hand cars to sustain his family.

 “Although their’s is a poor family, his father worked hard to ensure that his only son got good quality education at a private school,” a relative, who didn’t want to be named, said.

 “We were shocked when we learnt about it. I raised him like my own child,” the relative added over phone, struggling to hold back his grief.

According to a video that went viral last week, his mother is seen reminding Faisal that she and his two sisters have undergone surgical procedures and that he was their only support.

“Who will your sisters look up to if you are gone. Come back my son. How are we going to live without you?” Irshada Bano said in the video.

On Sunday, Irshada, her husband, Gulzar, and four daughters were joined by other relatives in their long, arduous journey from south Kashmir to north Kashmir’s Handwara where Faisal is being buried in an unmarked graveyard.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, security agencies have been denying the bodies of militants killed in encounters to their families, arguing that it will prevent mass gatherings at their funerals which might spread the viral infection.

 

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