Saqib and Mudassir were from diverse economic backgrounds but unified by their passion for soccer and their hometown.
On a hot summer day of August, members of a Kashmiri youth soccer team saw their 16-year-old captain, Saqib Bilal Sheikh, and goalkeeper Mudassir Rashid Parray march towards a man on a motorcycle in the fields. The two teenagers were not seen since then until months later, when they returned in body bags.
Dying with his associate in an 18-hour firefight in December, Mudassir became the youngest fighter slain fighting Indian troops in the uprisings in Kashmir. The Kashmiri unrest and its struggle have increased the number of teenage boys and young men fighting against India.
Police says hundreds of young Kashmiris have tied with groups of fighters, leading to a rush in attacks on Indian troops.
Young people feel frustrated and pushed to the wall,” said Khurram Parvez, a programme coordinator for the Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.
These two boys have seen the times change as the peaceful summertime street marches twisted into battlegrounds.
Both the families have described their sons as martyrs, stating resentment on India being the violent occupying force in Kashmir.
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21 August, 2019