Mahend: After a gap of 12 years, Mahend village in Srigufwara area of Anantnag district was back on the militancy map when ‘Maxwell’, a popular young cricketer and son of a prosperous orchardist, joined Hizbul Mujahideen ranks in May this year.
24-year-old Shabir Ahmad Mir (alias Showket), son of Mohammad Ahsan Mir, became the first youth from Mahend village to have picked up arms since Arshid Hussain, the last surviving militant from the village, was killed in 2005.
The revival of militancy in the area has been short lived, though. Shabir was killed today in Tahab area of Pulwama district, along with another Hizb militant.
Known as Maxwell after the Australian cricketer for his ball-hitting prowess, Mir had given up a lavish lifestyle to join militant ranks.
“When an unemployed twenty-something boy has a car and a motor bike to his own use, you can imagine the financial status of the family,” one of Mir’s neighbours told Kashmir Reader.
Nazir Ahmad, Mir’s elder brother, said his brother had the most comfortable life any youngster could dream of.
“He just played cricket or drove around in his car. These were the only things he loved to do. He was not even asked to work in the orchards for being the pampered last-born,” Nazir said.
The youngest among three brothers, Mir left home on May 6 and had not contacted his family since. His pictures with weapons and wearing army fatigues appeared on social media, though, soon after he left home.
“We were told by the army and the police, during the frequent raids at our home after he left, that he had joined militants,” Nazir said.
Many in the village said they were baffled at Mir’s joining armed resistance.
“He had everything any one of us could dream of. What I am not able to understand is how somebody can give up such a sumptuous life to live on crumbs in the godforsaken woods,” said a childhood friend of Mir.
Mir’s friends and teammates at the ‘Tiger Sports Club’ said that that the Indian media should have seen Mir’s lifestyle before saying that Kashmiri youth pelt stones or pick up the gun because they are paid money.
“He was a very humble soul and at the same time very lavish at heart. Can somebody who spends two-three thousand rupees every day be asked to pelt stones or pick up a gun for 500 a day?” Mir’s friend asked.
Mir’s family and some friends told Kashmir Reader that a change had come over him after Hizb commander Burhan Wani was killed.
“He had been a religious boy all along but in the last 6 months he had become acutely religious. He took a lot of care towards his prayers and other religious duties,” Nazir said.
Nazir said that Mir may have been contemplating to join militants as he had turned down two marriage proposals, almost finalised by the family for him.
“When he rejected the first girl I thought it was about the girl. But when he turned down the second girl, I confronted him. He said, ‘How can I think of marriage when so many innocents are getting killed in Kashmir’,” Nazir recalled his younger brother telling him a few weeks before he left to join militants. The Tiger Sports Club has been on a losing streak ever since their ‘Maxwell’ left.
“He asked me to organise back-to-back matches. He was in a hurry to play as many matches as he could,” said Mudassir, the present captain of the team. “He is being missed also on the cricket field, where we have been losing matches without him.”
The other team members say that ‘Maxwell’ was their go-to man and they have been getting bundled out on paltry scores since he left.
His teammates, who talked to this reporter before Mir was killed, wished for him to come back and play with them again.
That wish will now never be fulfilled.