Aaqib Gul: Left home as a boy, returned as a ‘Martyr’ after 15 days

Body of Gul covered with flower petals and candies amid mourners outside his residence in Hyderpora area of Srinagar. (FPK Photo/Arif Nazir)

Srinagar: “We are under cordon and I won’t surrender. I have borrowed Rs. 6000 from my friend. Please return that amount to him. I feel so lucky to achieve martyrdom for the pious cause. Do pray for me.”

These were the last words of Aaqib Gul while speaking to his mother on the phone.

The 23-year old Gul from Guripora area of Hyderpora in Srinagar was one of the three militants who were killed by the forces in an encounter that broke out in the Rudbug village of district Budgam on 11 July.

Youth chanting pro-freedom slogans during the funeral procession of Aaqib Gul in Hyderpora area of Srinagar. (FPK Photo/Arif Nazir)

Gul’s mother Mubeena is still in shock and has nothing to say, but her eyes haven’t stopped shedding tears for a moment.  Gul’s father, Ghulam Ahmad Dar, a government employee is struggling to accept the fact that his son is no more.

After every thirty seconds he turns his head towards the main gate of their house, as if he believes his son might enter any moment.

Gul’s elder sister Asma’s wails echo in the whole house.

“How could you do this to us Aaqib? What are we supposed to tell your elder brother when he returns,” she screams amid the mourning women.

Hanan Gul, the elder brother of the slain 23-year old is pursuing Masters of Technology (M.Tech) from Sweden. He was scheduled to reach Srinagar on July 13.

Gul was engaged almost a year and half ago.

There was mourning everywhere. Suddenly, the intensity of the wails and shrills increased. His fiancée had come to bid farewell.  There was commotion. People started enquiring, when a family member said, “She just fainted.”

Gul’s friends and cousins like his family members are also in a state of shock. According to them, he would never discuss conflict and militancy with anyone.

Aaqib Gul. Photo Courtesy: Gul Family

There is not a single case of stone pelting or violence against him. “Aqib was a very humble person. He would never argue with anyone even if he contradicted with them,” said Fazil, one of his childhood friends.

His friends describe him as a very bright student who scored 75% and 60% in his 10th and 12th standard respectively.

Gul did his schooling from Oak Hill Public School and passed his higher secondary from S P Higher Secondary School. Aaqib had even joined Bhatia Vidalia College at Pune for B. Tech, but he left studies after one year.

In February 2015, Aaqib’s father opened a hardware store for him at Chaddora. One of his uncles said,” He was very much interested in business and his father always encouraged him. He was doing absolutely fine with his hardware business.”

Gul left home a day after Eid-ul-Fitr only to return as a ‘martyr’ after 15 days.

The slain militant’s funeral was attended by thousands despite curfew like restrictions in the city. Among those people were women crying and beating their chests, singing and praising Gul’s ‘bravery and martyrdom’.

There was a huge number of youth who were chanting pro freedom slogans and trying to get one glimpse of Gul. Some were trying to touch his face and other trying to kiss his feet.

People gather at the Main Chowk of Hyderpora in Srinagar to offer second funeral prayers for the slain militant. (FPK Photo/Arif Nazir)

According to his family Gul was wearing same clothes that he had put on 15 days ago before he left his home. Gul was laid to rest at his native graveyard of Guripora after his two funeral processions were attended by thousands of people. The first funeral was held at Jamia Masjid Guripora and the other one at Main Chowk Hyderpora.

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