18 years old Saqib Bilal could become a successful actor if he didn’t choose a path which led to destruction and nothing else. Did you remember he did a cameo role in Vishal Bhardwaj’s adaption of Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet, Haider? He faced a similar tragic end.
Saqib was among the three militants killed in an encounter with security forces at Mujgund area, on the outskirts of Srinagar on December 9. Saqib belonged to a well to do farming family.
According to Saqib’s family, he was a bright student, having scored 76% in Class 10 finals and opted for science stream to become an engineer. His grief-stricken father Bilal Sheikh, a government employee, told to a news channel that,
“He was a good student. He didn’t even take a single tuition and had big plans for his future. He would never talk about militancy or the conflict. His life was filled with his own adventures.”
A football fanatic and a theatre artist, Saqib had an interest in acting and appeared for two brief shots in Haider in 2014 starring Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor and Tabu. He was appreciated for his acting but fate had something else in store for him.
Saqib and another boy Mudasir (14), a class 9 student from Hajin Bandipora were killed along with a Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba militant in an 18-hour gun battle with security forces. Both the boys had left their homes on August 31 and joined militancy group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Bilal’s family is at a loss to understand why he joined militancy.
Asim Aijaz, Saqib’s maternal uncle told that,
“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.”
Aijaz went on to say,
“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.”
According to media reports, the death of the two teen boys has triggered anger and grief in Kashmir.