Three Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were gunned down by Indian security forces on December 9th in Mujgund in an 18-hour-long encounter, on the outskirts of Srinagar.
Among the militants was Saqib Bilal, a teenager who had a cameo in Shahid Kapoor's hit movie 'Haider' in 2014.
© VB Pictures
Saqib and another boy from Hajin Bandipora had left their homes on August 31st, following which the distraught families launched a search to bring their sons back, but to no avail.
“For more than a month, we went to places to find them. Ultimately, we realised the unthinkable. 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”, Saqib's uncle Asim Aijaz was quoted saying by the Hindustan Times.
Saqib's father asserted that his son was an avid lover of football and acting and that militancy and the state of turmoil in Kashmir was never discussed by him.
“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. Before his Haider stint, he appeared in a stage show 'Weath chi Yeahi (This is the river)' at Tagore Hall in which he was the protagonist. He managed to get an award and even went to Odisha to repeat the performance,” Aijaz said.
Saqib was cremated with thousands thronging to attend his funeral.