In Kashmir, authorities are anxious with the growing trend of Kashmiri youth joining militancy. Reportedly, a particular rise in the number of youngsters becoming militants was noticed after the execution of Hizbul Mujahideen member Burhan Wani who was killed in an operation in July 2017. And it does not seem to die down. Saqib Bilal, a promising actor in his teens who also played a cameo in Shahid Kapoor's Haider, lost his life in an encounter, months after he went missing from his home.
Bilal, along with a friend, left home on 31st August. His family looked for him but in vain. In the outskirts of Srinagar, an 18-hour-long gun battle took place between the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba and security forces in Mujgund, killing both the boys. "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," Asim Aijaz, Bilal's uncle, told Hindustan Times.
Known as a bright student, Bilal was pursuing science for his +2 course and was fond of football, kabaddi and taekwondo. He was in the sixth standard when he landed a cameo in Haider, a film that revolved around Kashmir and the impact of its socio-political fluctuations on the people. Bilal's performance in a stage drama titled Weath chi Yeahi was also appreciated and he travelled to Odisha to perform the same.